The Semantics and Poetics of Autobiographism in War Poets’ Lyrics

Yevheniya Chernokova


The paper deals withautobiographismin a lyrical poemseen as the realization of the personified point of view on the world, on him/herself and on his/her place in the world. This problem in lyrics is complex as it affects the core of its subject structure. It does not add up to autopsychologism but reveals the complex interaction of “empiric” author, lyrical “self” and persona, their “inseparability – non-fusion”, when persona appears not as an image-character but as an image-personality (M. Bakhtin). The paradigmatic changes of autobiographism manifestation in the lyrics of S. Sassoon, W. Owen and A. Rosenberg are in the focus of the research. The Great War was not the only the central event of their life but also the principal theme of their poetry. But autobiographism is actualized in their lyrics in rather different ways. Sassoon shows the rational mastering of the new reality conveying the idea of invalidity of old conceptions of heroic deed, faith, patriotism. In Owen’s lyrics the ethical and ideological angles are not dominating aesthetical and personality ones. Thestrengthoffraternalfriendship,of faith andthe sincerity of grief – that is what the lyrical hero should find over and over again to win the right of hope versus pessimism and despair. Rosenberg’s lyrical hero is interested in the transitory linked with the eternal, the patriotic – with the cosmopolitan, the attractive – with the ugly, the strong – with the weak, subjective – with the universal. All these are united in a man, poet, lyrical “self”. Exactly the man, not the war veteran: Rosenberg does not want to play the role of the doomed, that “key role” practiced by some war poets who thought they are demanded the revelation either of proper words or of shocking details. The metamorphoses insemantics and poetics of autobiographism are radically manifested in the changes of the very subject structure of lyrics of the war poets. The Sassoon’s role hero transforms into the lyrical persona of Owen and Rosenberg which is directed at “the other” and at the same time sees himself as “the other”.


lyrics; subject structure; Sassoon; Owen; Rosenberg; autobiographism; role hero; “empiric” author; lyrical “self”; persona; “the other”


Hegel G. W. F. Estetika [Aesthetics]. Moscow, 1971, vol. 3, 623 p. (in Russian).

Lejeune Ph. W zashchitu avtobiografii [In defence of autobiography]. Inostrannaia literatura, 2000, no. 4, pp. 108–122. (in Russian).

Literaturoznavchyi slovnyk-dovidnyk [Literary terms dictionary]. Kyiv, 1997, 752 p. (in Ukrainian).

Medarich M. Avtobiografiia [Autobiography]. In: Avtointerpretatsiia [Autointerpretation]. Saint Petersburg, 1998, pp. 5–32. (in Russian).

Teoriia literatury [Theory of literature]. Moscow, 2010, 512 p. (in Russian).

Khalizev W. Teoriia literatury [Theory of literature]. Moscow, 2002, 437 p. (in Russian).

Bergonzi B. Late Victorian to Modernist (1880–1930). In: The Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature. Oxford, N.Y., 1990, pp. 379–430.

Bergonzi B. The Problem of War Poetry : Byron Foundation Lecture for 1990. Nottingham, 2010, 26 p.

Fussell P. The Great War and Modern Memory. London, 1979, 363 p.

Knowles O. Introduction. In: The Poems of Wilfred Owen. London, 2002, pp. 5–20.

Owen W. The Collected Letters. London, 1967, 629 p.

Perkins D. A History of Modern Poetry: From the 1890s to the High Modernist Mode. Cambridge, London, 1976, 624 p.

The Poems of Wilfred Owen. London, 2002, 112 p.

Selected Poetry of the First World War. London, 1995, 140 p.

Wilson J. V. Isaac Rosenberg: The Making of a Great War Poet. London, 2008, 512 p.

GOST Style Citations

Гегель Г. В. Ф. Эстетика : в 4 т. / Г.В.Ф. Гегель. – М. : Мысль, 1971. – Т. 3. – 623 с.


Лежен Ф. В защиту автобиографии / Филипп Лежен // Иностранная литература. – 2000. – № 4. – С. 108–122.


Літературознавчий словник-довідник / Р. Т. Гром’як, Ковалів та ін. – К. : ВЦ „Академія”, 1997. – 752 с.


Медарич М. Автобиография / Автобиографизм. Текст / Магдалена Медарич // Автоинтерпретация : сб. ст. – СПб. : Изд-во СПбГУ, 1998. – С. 5–32.


Теория литературы : учеб.пособие для студ. филол. фак. высш. учеб. заведений: в 2 т. / под ред. Н. Д. Тамарченко. Т.1: Н. Д. Тамарченко, В. И. Тюпа, С. Н. Бройтман. Теория художественного дискурса. Теоретическая поэтика. – 4‑е изд., стер. – М. : Издательский центр „Академия”, 2010. – 512 с.


Хализев В. Е. Теория литературы : учебник / В. Е. Хализев. – 3‑е изд., испр. и доп. – М. : Высшая школа, 2002. – 437 с.


Bergonzi B. Late Victorian to Modernist (1880–1930) / Bergonzi, Bernard // Rogers P. The Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature. – Oxford, N.Y. : Oxford UP, 1990. – P. 379–430.


Bergonzi B. The Problem of War Poetry: Byron Foundation Lecture for 1990 / Bernard Bergonzi. – Nottingham : University of Nottingham, 2010. – 26 p.


Fussell P. The Great War and Modern Memory. – London : Oxford UP, 1979.– 363 p.


Knowles O. Introduction / Knowles, Owen // The Poems of Wilfred Owen. – London : Wordsworth Classics, 2002. – P. 5–20.


Owen W. The Collected Letters. Ed. Harold Owen and John Bell / Wilfred Owen. – London : Oxford UP, 1967. – 629 p.


Perkins D. A History of Modern Poetry: From the 1890s to the High Modernist Mode. – Cambridge; London : The Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 1976. – 624 p.


The Poems of Wilfred Owen / Introduction by Owen Knowles. – London : Wordsworth Classics, 2002. – 112 p.


Selected Poetry of the First World War. – London : Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1995. – 140 p.


Wilson J. V. Isaac Rosenberg: The Making of a Great War Poet: A New Life / Jean Moorcroft Wilson. – London : Weidenfeld& Nicolson, 2008. – 512 p.

Copyright (c) 2014

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The journal publishes research papers on terms: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License 


Pytannia literaturoznavstva
ISSN 2306-2908 
Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University
2 Kotsiubynsky str., Chernivtsi 58012, Ukraine