chapter  2
36 Pages

Soldiers as Readers

This chapter explores soldiers as readers and considers what their reading preferences might tell us about their imaginative and intellectual experiences. Reading choices made by soldiers at war were thus complicated and, while they were shaped by influences such as publishers, charity organizations or military authorities. Evidence on literacy for Australian soldiers in World War I needs to be extrapolated from several sources. The military did not compile data on literacy rates. In Australia, a similar public patriotic culture was evident. The importance of education at a more formal level will be examined in more detail in; however, here it can be noted that many soldiers wanted to study either to assist them in their post-war lives or to provide them with useful, or even essential, information in wartime conditions. Sentimental and adventure fiction offered this escape most clearly, but non-fiction, too, gave soldiers a means through which they could turn their minds away from war.