International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Issue | Article

War and sacrifice

the troubled legacy of the First World War

James Dodd

pp. 99-126

Taking as its point of departure a reflection on Abel Gance’s 1919 film J’accuse!, and drawing on George Bataille’s theory of sacrifice, as well as the work of the cultural historian Jay Winter, this paper argues that one of the legacies of the First World War in intellectual and cultural history is a deep skepticism regarding the relation between war and sacrifice. This skepticism, which has its roots in the struggle with the meaning of the war during the years 1914-1918, retains its resonance today, however enduring and even inevitable its evocation may otherwise be in our understanding of the Great War and the conflicts endemic to European and world history since.

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