The Devil's Rope: A Cultural History of Barbed Wire by Alan Krell

By Alan Krell

Barbed cord cuts throughout greater than simply estate, conflict and politics. This such a lot vicious instrument of keep an eye on has performed a serious function within the smooth adventure, be it territorial enlargement or the payment of neighborhood and overseas conflicts. although, it has different histories: these developed via picture and textual content within the arts, media and pop culture. those representations – in portray, images, poetry, own memoirs, cartoons, novels, ads and picture – have by no means sooner than been seriously tested. during this e-book, Alan Krell investigates where barbed twine holds within the social imagination.Invented in France in 1860, barbed twine used to be constructed independently within the united states, the place it was once used to regulate cattle at the nice Plains, either to "keep out" and "keep in". Promoted because the excellent Fence, barbed wire’s menacing features have been quickly made take place. The epithet, "The Devil’s Rope", expected its transformation right into a instrument of warfare within the overdue nineteenth and early twentieth century. Henceforth, it'll turn into synonymous with repression. Barbed wire’s conflicting personality makes it a suitable image of modernity, and Krell indicates how using this symbolism in modern artwork has given barbed cord meanings past the ancient and political geographical regions.

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If you want to find the sergeant-major, I know where he is, I know where he is . . He’s boozing up the private’s rum. I’ve seen him, I’ve seen him . . If you want to find the old battalion, I know where they are, I know where they are . . They’re hanging on the old barbed wire.  Badly wounded in December  at Ypres, Bairnsfather went on to join the Intelligence Department of the War Office, where he produced his cartoons for the Bystander. Published in six booklets called Fragments from France, these images were also reproduced as postcards and playing cards.

Notwithstanding the vast amount of protective clothing – leather jacket and trousers, chain mail mask, gloves – his presence is palpable: staring out from his ‘mask’, he embodies a tenacity that is specific and pragmatic, unlike Erler’s 60 warrior, who is generalized and transcendent.  Cutting barbed wire was the most obvious way of tackling the obstacle.  Other strategies would later develop, however, that involved a far more intimate contact between bodies and wire. The journal Army, in its edition for January , described how Australian troops were being taught ‘to throw themselves on to barbed-wire, flattening it to the ground to make a passage for men to charge through’.

From the beginning barbed wire played a vital role in this system. Describing the construction of these steel barriers, a British manual published during the war noted: ‘Front trenches . . must be protected by an efficient obstacle. W. Nevinson, Paths of Glory, 1917, oil on canvas. 55 27 Paul Nash, Wire, 1919, ink, chalk and watercolour on paper. barbed-wire entanglement is the most efficient obstacle and is that universally used [my emphasis] . ’ These observations, incidentally, recall Washburn & Moen’s grand assertions () of the merits of barbed wire (see chapter one).

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