I study French literature and I want to carry out a research in comparative literature which compares two books written by soldiers of the World War (one of them by a French soldier and the other one by a German soldier).

My problem is that I cannot find a good method for this subject. Books concerning comparative literature, talk about the influence of one book on another book (the theory of intertextuality), but my research is not about the influence, and I want to compare two different points of view about a phenomenon.

This is a master thesis and I have enough space for comparing many aspects such as characters,Narrative point of view,theme, etc. I want to know the method/theory with which I should do that. The main problem about which I want to talk is to show how the soldiers of the two fronts thought about the war(WWI). I hope that my question is clear.

  • 1
    Virtually anything by George Steiner should be useful but given your topic his Language and Silence may have special resonance.. Franco Moretti's theory and book Distant Reading may also provide insight in terms of formulating quantitative approaches. Otherwise, Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory should be on your reading list if it isn't already.
    – DJohnson
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 18:58
  • may I ask if you were able to finish your thesis for this? Fortunately, I have the same problem at the moment...I am trying to look for the best Research Method to use in my Comparative Analysis between two epics. Can you also help me with this? TIA
    – user10345
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 14:27

1 Answer 1


A comparison presumes some similarities and some differences. It sounds like you want to use these similarities and differences to say something about how each author saw the war, probably also how they're the same and how they're different.

From your brief outline, the similarities seem to stem from two facts: They're both fighting in the same war, and they both wrote books about it. It's also likely that they're both of similar age. The main difference is that they're from different countries.

Therefore, I would compare the two books according to the tropes, themes, motifs, or military engagements that they share (the similarities of "fighting" and "writing"), analyze how they each treat these elements, and try to account for any differences, perhaps by appealing to either ideological or literary history (the difference of "countries").

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