“All Hell Let Loose” on the Post-war Homefront: Postmemorial Engagement of Returning Combatants of World War II


  • Christina Howes Universitat Internacional de Catalunya



Słowa kluczowe:

postmemory, postmemoir, World War Two, veterans, homecoming


This article examines a sub-genre of postmemoirs which have been published since the mid1980s, written by children and grandchildren of veteran combatants of the Allied Forces. These British and American generational texts both preserve and unveil hidden historical memory of these men’s participation in what is often referred to as the deadliest war in human history. The silent suffering of these veterans and their families had not been widely disclosed until Stephen Spielberg’s film Saving Private Ryan opened a Pandora’s box. And yet, it remains an enigmatic memory in the collective consciousness of the post-war period. These writers recount the experiences not only of their fathers’ wars, but of homecoming and the subsequent psychological impact of the war on family life, whilst also attempting to understand and come to terms with their own traumatic resonances rooted in these veterans’ Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I discuss some examples of these texts, which include writers such as Germaine Greer, Lucinda Franks, Leila Levinson, Cole Moreton, or Carol Schultz Vento, who have written within this postmemoir sub-genre. I discuss some common approaches to these postmemorial narratives, which interweave tropes of archival romance, confessional literature, and historiographic metafiction. These family postmemoirs challenge the oft mythologized cultural memory of the ‘Good War’, question the meaning of heroism, and reveal the unspoken traumas of post-war familial life, and ultimately contribute not only to disclosing an unknown history but to broadening the thematic horizons of postmemory to the post-generations of Allied ex-servicemen.


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Jak cytować

Howes, C. (2023). “All Hell Let Loose” on the Post-war Homefront: Postmemorial Engagement of Returning Combatants of World War II. Jednak Książki. Gdańskie Czasopismo Humanistyczne, (16), 59–71. https://doi.org/10.26881/jk.2023.16.04