UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Laughter in the trenches : humour and front experience in German First World War narratives Kazecki, Jakub


This dissertation investigates the appearances and functions of humour and laughter in selected works of German literature that thematise the First World War. The investigation focuses on selected diaries, novels, and short stories based on autobiographical experiences written by authors during the Great War and in the Weimar era (1919-1933): In Stahlgewittern by Ernst Jiinger (1920), Vormarsch by Walter Bloem (1916), Der Streit um den Sergeanten Grischa by Arnold Zweig (1927), and Im Westen nichts Nenes by Erich Maria Remarque (1929). In addition, the parodic imitations of Im Westen nichts Neues, the text Vor Troja nichts Neues by Emil Marius Requark (1930) and the movie So Quiet on the Canine Front by Zion Myers and Jules White (1931), are discussed as significant polemical contributions that use humoristic strategies to undermine or stress the elements of the original. The main focal point of the study is the relationship between representations of humour, military violence, and power. The purpose of the study is to investigate whether the justifications of violence and power structures constructed by the narratives are confirmed or questioned by the use of humour and laughter. Furthermore, the study examines the role of humour and laughter in the construction of gender roles, with a concentration on soldier masculinity. The analysis establishes narrative conventions in the representation of humour and laughter that are exhibited by all selected literary works about the First World War that played an important role in the in the socio-political life of the Weimar Republic, regardless of their ideological assignment.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.