At the end of the First World War, countries across Europe participated in an unprecedented ritual in which a single, anonymous body was buried to symbolize the overwhelming trauma of the battlefields. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier explores the creation and reception of this symbolic national burial as an emblem for modern mourning.
Bringing together literature, newspaper accounts, wartime correspondence, and popular culture, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier examines how the Unknown Soldier was imagined in diverse national contexts and used by radically opposed political parties. Laura Wittman argues that this monument established a connection between the wounded body vulnerable to the war machine and a modern identity defined by common mortality and social alienation. Highly original and interdisciplinary, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier powerfully links the symbolic language and ethics of mourning to a fascinating national ritual.