Osbert Sitwell is thought to have said (but I cant find a reference for it) that after WWI the world will never be the same again.
One thing is true, the rich in Britain had to learn to do without servants during the war. Lady Victoria-Josepha Sackville-West wrote to Lord Kitchener (then Commander in Chief of the British Forces) complaining about him taking all the servants. Also if her husband were to die during the horrid war, she would have to pay some exorbitant taxes- death duties. Please provide him with a safe job.
Poor Osbert Sitwells father, George had no idea of war at the front either. He wrote to his son telling him that as soon as he hears the first shell, he is to go to the basement and to stay there until the firing had stopped. He said that even then the bombardment was a strain on the nerves, so he should care to keep warm, have plenty of nourishing food, and plenty of rest including a nap in the afternoon which always helps.
The world would never be the same again. People were made to wake up. The world wasn’t the safe place that they thought it was. True the Brits had been in wars before, but they were somewhat civilised affairs… and they were… over there. This one was on their doorstep, and instead of all nations bowing to the will of the Commonwealth, there was opposition to the might of Britain.
The Literary world was changed too. Gone now was the sweet perfume of the roses that grew, and here was the smell of gas in the trenches, and shells of bombs being planted in the front garden. The poets lost the romantisim and found their fire within their hearts. They found causes to be passionate about instead of the powdered young ladies with their delicate nature.
The Next War by Osbert Sitwell
The long war had ended.
Its miseries had grown faded.
Deaf men became difficult to talk to,
Heroes became bores.
Who had converted blood into gold
Had grown elderly.
But they held a meeting,
‘We think perhaps we ought
To put up tombs
Or erect altars
To those brave lads
Who were so willingly burnt,
Who lost all likeness to a living thing,
Or were blown to bleeding patches of flesh
For our sakes.
It would look well.
Or we might even educate the children.’
But the richest of these wizards
And he said:
‘I have always been to the front
-In private enterprise-,
I yield in public spirit
To no man.
I think yours is a very good idea
-A capital idea-
And not too costly . . .
But it seems to me
That the cause for which we fought
Is again endangered.
What more fitting memorial for the fallen
Than that their children
Should fall for the same cause?’
Rushing eagerly into the street,
The kindly old gentlemen cried
To the young:
‘Will you sacrifice
Through your lethargy
What your fathers died to gain ?
The world must be made safe for the young!’
And the children
Went. . . .
The art word was similarly rocked. The world was thrown into Chaos. Before the war, Picasso was producing some of the worlds finest etchings, such as The Frugal Repast 1904. In 1911 together with George Braque, Picasso developed a style called Analytic Cubism. This was looking at a model or object from various angles and portraying the images on one canvas. They would alter peoples perception, including parts of a subjects back, where the front would be seen and so on. It was sort of like a 3D image using 2D media.
Picasso neglected Cubism after WWI again using a more traditional style but later experimenting with Surrealism ( a genre made famous by fellow Spaniard Salvador Dali.
WWI can be accredited to some big changes in our world. Art and Literature are only a couple of things that changed. Technology and Inventions increased and leapt ahead as each alliance sought to find quicker and better ways to kill and maim their enemies.
Sitwell was right.
We, the children of the warriors before,
Learn nothing from the horrors of War
Lest we forget we say with our lips
But from our minds, the lives lost slips.
(Thats my own verse)
“When will they ever learn, When will they ever learn”. Pete Seeger
For the cartoon and the Sitwell poem, as well as the letters to Lord Kitchener: Horrible Histories, 20th Century, Terry Deary,
For the clip of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, look on You Tube
For the Picasso Print: Art Gallery of NSW
for other information on Orbert Sitwell: http://www.firstworldwar.com/poetsandprose/sitwello.htm