The author describes how in Polish conditions literature became the motor force of social and economic life, and primarily expressed the patriotic aspirations of the nation. In the expectations of certain intellectuals the war was connected with hope for basic worldwide changes, which could not have been offered by a social revolution. In 1914 the image of the war as a purifying force prevailed , especially in view of the lack of experiences of its deleterious dimension. As the events on the front developed, the old myths of war and its cultural depictions slowly disintegrated under the impact of information about the unprecedented barbarity of civilised nations. Shock and growing apathy, accompanied by successive news from the front, disclosed an area of equally considerable devastation - the degradation of the human psyche and man as such. The perception of war and the attitude towards it altered when its direct consequences began to affect the authors on par with the rest of the population. In such situations, the place of opinions about the heroism of the struggle and its superior values was taken by accounts of tackling reality deprived of its poetic guise. In 1914, war still remained a artistic theme, an anticipated catharsis, which was to bring moral and national renascence. A year later, it lost its universal dimension and assumed predominantly the features of a struggle for survival.