The Crimean War and Cultural Memory: The War France Won and Forgot

2023 | Sima Godfrey

Publisher: University of Toronto Press

Full description:

The Crimean War (1854–56) is widely considered the first modern war with its tactical use of railways, telegraphs, and battleships, its long-range rifles, and its notorious trenches – precursors of the Great War. It is also the first media war: the first to know the impact of a correspondent on the field of battle and the first to be documented in photographs. No one, however, including the French themselves, seems to remember that France was there, fighting in Crimea, losing 95,000 soldiers and leading the Allied campaign to victory. It would seem that the Crimean War has no place in the canon of culturally retained historical events that define modern French identity.

Looking at literature, art, theatre, material objects, and medical reports, The Crimean War and Cultural Memory considers how the Crimean War was and was not represented in French cultural history in the second half of the nineteenth century. Ultimately, the book illuminates the forgotten traces that the Crimean War left on the French cultural landscape.