By Susan Kingsley Kent

Aftershocks reports how meanings of shellshock and imagery featuring 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 remarkable violence opposed to these considered as 'un-English'.

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Extra resources for Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918–1931

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You may say that everyone who had taken physical part in the war was then mad,” wrote Ford Maddox Ford. ” Depression, lassitude, and indifference to danger, horrors, and death plagued many. “Life was pointless,” wrote a soldier upon his return from the war. E. ”38 The year 1919 might have been “the maddest year of all,” as one soldier put it, but veterans continued to experience traumatic symptoms well into the 1920s. Many could not throw off the sights and sounds of the war and suffered nightmares and flashbacks for months and even years.

Making no distinction between prostitutes infected with venereal diseases on the one hand, and young girls or women infected with “khaki fever” on the other, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to The Times in February 1917 of “vile women . . who prey upon and poison our soldiers . . these harpies carry off the lonely soldiers to their rooms . . 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.

McNeill went so far as to say that the determination “to keep our own country for our own people” far outweighed issues of housing, health, land acquisition, and reconstructive reform generally. ” Disease, drug use, gambling, vice, and “unnatural offences,” MPs insisted, endemic to “Asiatic” populations (using the term Asiatic in reference to Jews) would be brought into Britain and be allowed to flourish; and as “Asiatics” did not assimilate but kept to their own communities and preserved their own culture, they could not but act as “a source of weakness and danger” to the country.

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