Institute of English StudiesUniversity of Warsaw

Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 27/3, Coates

Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 27/1

Donna Coates
Happy is the Land that Needs No Heroes
Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 27/3: 111-142



This essay interrogates two articles by the Canadian historian Jeff Keshen and the Australian historian Mark Sheftall, which assert that the representations of soldiers in the First World War (Anzacs in Australia, members of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, the CEF), are comparable. I argue, however, that in reaching their conclusions, these historians have either overlooked or insufficiently considered a number of crucial factors, such as the influence the Australian historian/war correspondent C. E. W. Bean had on the reception of Anzacs, whom he venerated and turned into larger-than-life men who liked fighting and were good at it; the significance of the “convict stain” in Australia; and the omission of women writers’ contributions to the “getting of nationhood” in each country. It further addresses why Canadians have not embraced Vimy (a military victory) as their defining moment in the same way as Australians celebrate the landing at Anzac Cove (a military disaster), from which they continue to derive their sense of national identity. In essence, this essay advances that differences between the two nations’ representations of soldiers far outweigh any similarities.

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