The picaresque mode is a lens through which we can peel back the many layers of cultural memory that have accrued to the Great War moment, to uncover the attitudes, sensibilities, and worldviews of the men and women who lived through the war as it unfolded. Rather than seeing themselves as passive victims or active resisters, as some postwar writers and critics have seen them, Great War soldiers and civilians imagined themselves as survivors. A tradition long associated with times of war and social chaos, the picaresque helps us to recover some of the finer detail and cultural references that made up the context in which and through which Great War texts were created. The picaresque is a literary/cultural mode through which we can understand the Great War moment and the ways in which novelists, graphic artists, journalists, and other culture makers attempted to make sense of it.
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