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The First World WarLiterature, Culture, Modernity$
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Santanu Das and Kate McLoughlin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266267

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266267.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 20 October 2021

The Zeppelin in the Sky of the Mind

The Zeppelin in the Sky of the Mind

(p.128) 7 The Zeppelin in the Sky of the Mind
The First World War

Christine Froula

British Academy

While First World War historians often emphasize civilians’ experience of ‘war at a distance’, the military dirigible floated over the divide between civilian and soldier, brought aerial warfare to Britain’s island fortress, and inaugurated a mode of modern warfare that defies spatial and temporal containment. This essay foregrounds the zeppelin’s psychic impact on the civilian imaginary from 1914 through the Spanish Civil War to the Blitz, tracing its conceptual and aesthetic representation in diaries, letters, novels, essays, and plays by Virginia Woolf, H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Katherine Mansfield, D. H. Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Rukeyser, Julian Bell and others. These writings document an unending European-civil-imperial-global war in which aerial technologies at once enlarge human powers almost beyond imagining and dwarf them to the point of negation. Inspiring both wonder and the new terror of total war, the zeppelin created a permanent change in civilians’ psychic weather and remains an inescapable presence in the sky of the mind.

Keywords:   zeppelin, total war, aerial warfare, civilians, Virginia Woolf, global war, First World War, Spanish Civil War, Blitz

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