-11. THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR I ON LITERATURE
World War I cut forever the ties with the past. It brought discontent and disillusionment to many people who were plunged into gloom at the knowledge that "progress" had not saved the world from war. World War I left its record in literature as well. Rupert Brooke (1887-1915), who died during the war, has been idealised for what is actually a rather thin performance in poetry. Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), also a war casualty, was far more realistic about the heroism and idealism of the soldier. Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) and Edmund Blunden (1896-1974), both survivors of the slaughter, left violent accounts of the horrors and terror of war. In fiction in the post-war period, there was a shift from novels of the human comedy to novels of characters. Fiction ceased to be concerned with a plot or a forward-moving narrative. Instead, it followed the twisted development of a single character or a group of related characters. Of these writers, William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) achieved the greatest popular success. In Of Human Bondage, published in 1915, he portrays a character who drifts. The Moon and Sixpence (191'9), based on the life of the artist Paul Gauguin, continues the examination of the character without roots. Cakes and Ale (1930) shows how the real self is lost between the two masks — public and private — that every person wears.
We can infer from the passage that, before the war, a lot of people ------ .
were expecting more realistic fiction from the novelists of the time
were trying to cut their ties with the past
had expected that advancement in technology would avert the war
had begun to feel dissatisfied with the contemporary literary works
had already switched from humorous to realistic novels
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