The Anzac Legend didn't Mention Mud

Richard Nile


John Schumann's song 'I was only Nineteen' contains the line 'The Anzac Legend didn't mention Mud,' which might be reasonably read as the dirt music of Australian literary responses to the Great War of 1914-1918. This article argues that Leonard Mann's 1932 novel Flesh in Armour is both an exception and indicative novel of Australian wartime experiences on the Western Front. Contaminated mud features as a persistent metaphor of abjection. Yet the sacralised beach and rocky outcrops of Gallipoli and the desert sands of the Middle East had the effect of obscuring the filth and tragedy of war in the trenches and across no-man's land. The article compares E P F Lynch's Somme Mud and Frederic Manning's The Middle Parts of Fortune with Flesh in Armour and speculates on influences emanating from Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front.


Leonard Mann; war literature; mud; Western Front; abjection

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