By Susan Kingsley Kent
This e-book examines the effect of collective trauma bobbing up out of the nice battle at the politics of the Nineteen Twenties in Britain. Aftershocks reviews how meanings of shellshock and imagery proposing the traumatized psyche as shattered contributed to Britons understandings in their political selves within the Twenties. It connects the strength of feelings to the political tradition of a decade which observed outstanding violence opposed to these considered as un-English.
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Additional resources for Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931
And ﬁnally inoculate them . . ” Clearly, in the minds of many Britons, sex presented as great a threat to the survival and existence of England as did Germany; the two were, indeed, conﬂated in the minds of many. Jews, “Blacks,” and the Promises of Radical Conservatism, 1919–1925 39 Mrs. ”5 These visions of sexuality in which women had become fully as unrestrained as men threatened traditional gender and sexual arrangements. For many, the opportunity to contribute to national life, to work and to be well paid, was a rewarding and exhilarating experience, one that they would not easily have turned their backs on upon the conclusion of hostilities.
The “cutting up of living bodies” haunted his dreams and perhaps his waking hallucinations as he lay in bed under a picture of a gypsy woman. “When I thought I was asleep the picture would open on loud hinges and disclose the world of cutting up live but uncomplaining bodies,” he recounted. “It was lighted by ﬁre. I was given the choice of joining the bodies or else remaining where I was, in the big lumpy ﬂock bed which was steadily ﬁlling with horse shit . . ” That time, he wrote, was one of “fragments” with “little meaning.
It is reasonable to see much of the violent behavior as the effects of trauma, as efforts on the part of the perpetrators to stave off, by lashing out against, potential boundary violations that threatened their psychic integrity. The actions of those individuals themselves generated a broader, societal response among the British public: in some instances, they excited a loud public outcry against them; in others, a conﬁdent approbation of the violence. It is in these responses that we can observe the attempts to forge a national identity—and therefore a national unity—by identifying those who must be expelled from society.
Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931 by Susan Kingsley Kent