Russian Romances: Emotionalism and Spirituality in the Writings of "Eastern Front" Nurses, 1914–1918
Author: Hallett, Christine
Source: Nursing History Review, Volume 17, Number 1, 2009 , pp. 101-128(28)
Publisher: Springer Publishing Company
Abstract:The nursing work of the First World War is usually associated with the trench warfare of the Western Front. Nurses were based within fairly permanent casualty clearing stations and field hospitals, and patients were moved "down the line" to base hospitals, and then to convalescent hospitals "at home." The nurses and volunteers who worked on the Eastern Front and offered their services to the letuchka or "flying columns" of the Russian medical services had a very different experience. They worked with highly mobile units, following a rapidly moving "front line." The diaries of three British (one Anglo-Russian) nurses who worked alongside Russian nursing sisterhoods in three different flying columns—Violetta Thurstan (Field Hospital and Flying Column), Florence Farmborough (With the Armies of the Tsar) and Mary Britnieva (One Woman's Story)—stand as an important corpus of nursing writing. Written in a highly romantic style, they take up similar themes around their work on the Eastern Front as a heroic journey through a dreamlike landscape. Each nurse offers a portrayal of the Russian character as fine and noble. The most important themes deal with the romance of nursing itself, in which nursing work is portrayed as both character-testing and a highly spiritual pursuit.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2009-01-01
- Nursing History Review, an annual peer-reviewed publication, is a showcase for the most significant current research on nursing and health care history. Contributors include national and international scholars representing many different disciplinary backgrounds. Regular sections include scholarly articles, reviews of the best books on nursing and health care history, invited commentaries, and abstracts of new doctoral dissertations on nursing and health care history. Historians, researchers, and individuals fascinated with the rich field of nursing will find this an important resource.
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