Everything to Nothing: The Poetry of the Great War, Revolution and the Transformation of Europe

Author(s): Geert Buelens


The Great War created a new world order, and changed the map of Europe forever. Empires collapsed, new countries emerged. Revolutions shocked and inspired the world. All across Europe, intellectuals reflected on the future of the continent. The Great War is often referred to as "the literary war." Gavrilo Princip, who fired the shots in Sarajevo that killed Franz Ferdinand, thought of himself as a poet. During the first month of the conflict over a million poems of propaganda were written in Germany alone while English poets joined in with rhymes about "Hun-hunting." In this cultural history of the First World War, the conflict is seen the point of view of poets from all over Europe. A transnational history of how nationalism and internationalism defined both the war itself and post-war dealings--revolutionary movements, wars for independence, civil wars, Versailles--and how poets played a vital role in defining the stakes, ambitions and disappointments of the post War Europe.


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"Truly magnificent ... A choir of voices streamlined in a narrative discourse which shatters the monolithic image of the John McCrae-like melancholic War Poet." Tom de Keyzer, De Leeswolf "Reads like a novel ... A story that has never been told before ... The book shows how poets all over Europe were co-responsible for the cultural crisis that lead to this war and how they were important critics of the idea of Europe." S. Bru, Spiegel der Letteren "Extraordinary comparative range and discursive reach . . Paradigm shifting ...Few studies have attempted such ambitious attention to the interrelation of the unfolding historical events and concurrent literary perspectives. Buelens' cross-European perspective, moreover, redraws the lines of national models for the literary history of the First World War." Deborah Longwood, Times Higher Ed.

Geert Buelens is professor of Modern Dutch Literature and chair of the Dutch Department at Utrecht University, guest professor of Dutch Literature at Stellenbosch University (RSA) and Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress. He is the author of several award winning books, and the editor of Avant Garde Critical Studies, co-editor of the Journal of Dutch Literature and a regular contributor to Dutch and Belgian newspapers.

General Fields

  • : 9781784781491
  • : Verso Books
  • : Verso Books
  • : December 2015
  • : 235mm X 156mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : January 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 940.3
  • : 940.3
  • : Geert Buelens
  • : 400
  • : 400
  • : Hardback
  • : Hardback