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Sacrificial Rituals and Wounded Hearts: The Uses of Christian Symbolism in French and German Women’s Responses to the First World War

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Abstract

In our contemporary culture, the word ‘sacrifice’ is frequently employed indiscriminately and inappropriately.1 It is in times of war that the dual definition of the noun regains its full force: first, the ritual killing of a person or animal with the intention of pleasing a deity; and secondly, the surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable or of preventing a greater evi1.2 Analysing this sacrificial theme from both patriotic and pacifist perspectives, this chapter explores the First World War works of French and German writers such as Thea von Harbou, Madeleine Pelletier, Nelly Roussel and Claire Studer. In the pages of both fictional and non-fictional publications, these women questioned whether their female contemporaries were handing over their husbands and sons to be sacrificed, making them active participants in a bloody ritual; or whether women were victims themselves, whose particular ordeal was to survive despite their sacrificial wounds.

Keywords

  • German Woman
  • Woman Writer
  • Sacrificial Rite
  • Female Protagonist
  • French Soldier

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 2007 Catherine O’Brien

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O’Brien, C. (2007). Sacrificial Rituals and Wounded Hearts: The Uses of Christian Symbolism in French and German Women’s Responses to the First World War. In: Fell, A.S., Sharp, I. (eds) The Women’s Movement in Wartime. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230210790_15

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230210790_15

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-28576-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-0-230-21079-0

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