Institute of English StudiesUniversity of Warsaw

Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 28/3, Branach-Kallas

Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 27/1

Anna Branach-Kallas 
Trauma, Gothic Apocalypse and Critical Mourning: The First World War and Its Aftermath in Chris Womersley’s Bereft
Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 28/3: 97-108


The article focuses on Bereft (2010), a novel by Australian writer Chris Womersley, which applies the framework of trauma to depict the (failed) reintegration of the returning soldiers after the First World War. Using Gothic and Apocalyptic tropes, Womersley addresses the question of the aftermath of violence in the lives of an Australian family and the Australian nation. By combining the insights of trauma and Gothic studies, the article demonstrates how Bereft undermines the meta-narrative of Australian participation in the First World War, questioning the myth of Anzac and national cohesion. It proposes to read the novel as an example of critical mourning, which, rather than cure from trauma, suggests a re-examination of the dramatic sequels of the imperial conflict. Rage seems to offer here an intriguing alternative to the forgetful practices of commemoration. By revising the militarized national mythology, Bereft redefines the First World War in terms of loss, trauma and desolation, and negotiates a place for broken bodies and minds in Australian cultural memory.

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