On 2 September 31 B.C.E., the heir of Julius Caesar defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra in a naval engagement at Actium. Despite the varied judgments this battle received in antiquity, common opinion held that Actium marked the start of a new era, a turning point in Roman history and, indeed, in Western civilization. Actium and Augustus marks a turning point as well. Robert Alan Gurval's unusual approach is to examine contemporary views of the battle and its immediate political and social consequences. He starts with a consideration of the official celebration and public commemoration of the Actian victory and then moves on to other questions. What were the "Actian" monuments that Octavian erected on the battle site and later in Rome? What role did the Actian victory play in the political formation of the Principate and its public ideology? What was the response of contemporary poetry? Throughout, this volume concentrates on contemporary views of Actium and its results.
Written to include the general reader, Actium and Augustus presents a thoughtful examination of a complex period. All Greek and Latin quotations are translated, and extensive illustrations present graphic evidence about the issues Romans faced.
Robert Alan Gurval is Associate Professor of Classics, University of California, Los Angeles, and has been a recipient of the Rome Prize awarded by the American Academy in Rome.
In this work, the first critical monograph on Suite française, Nathan Bracher shows how, first amid the chaos and panic of the May-June 1940 debacle, and then within the unsettling new order of the German occupation, Némirovsky's novel casts a particularly revealing light on the behavior and attitudes of the French as well as on the highly problematic interaction of France's social classes
Ambrose Bierce and the Dance of Death uses psychoanalytic theory in combination with historical, cultural, and literary contexts to examine the complex motif of death in a full range of Bierce’s writings. Scholarly interest in Bierce, whose work has long been undervalued, has grown significantly in recent years. This new book contributes to the ongoing reassessment by providing new contexts for joining the texts in his canon in meaningful ways.
Previous attempts to consider Bierce from a psychological perspective have been superficial, often reductive Freudian readings of individual stories such as “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and “The Death of Halpin Frayser.” This new volume not only updates these interpretations with insights from post-Freudian theorists but uses contemporary death theory as a framework to analyze the sources and expressions of Bierce’s attitudes about death and dying. This approach makes it possible to discern links among texts that resolve some of the still puzzling ambiguities that have—until now—precluded a fuller understanding of both the man and his writings.
Lively and engaging, Ambrose Bierce and the Dance of Death adds valuable new insights not only to the study of Bierce but to that of nineteenth-century American literature in general.
A probing and holistic meditation on the key question: Why do we continue to make art, and thus beauty, out of war?
Beautiful War: Studies in a Dreadful Fascination is a wide-ranging exploration of armed conflict as depicted in art that illustrates the constant presence of war in our everyday lives. Philip D. Beidler investigates the unending assimilation and pervasive presence of the idea of war in popular culture, the impulses behind the making of art out of war, and the unending and debatably aimless trajectories of war itself.
Beidler’s critical scope spans from Shakespeare’s plays, through the Victorian battle paintings of Lady Butler, into the post-World War I writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf, and up to twenty-first-century films such as The Hurt Locker and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. As these works of art have become ubiquitous in contemporary culture, the many faces of war clearly spill over into our art and media, and Beidler argues that these portrayals in turn shift the perception of war from a savage truth to a concept.
Beautiful War argues that the representation of war in the arts has always been, and continues to be, an incredibly powerful force. Incorporating painting, music, photography, literature, and film, Beidler traces a disturbing but fundamental truth: that war has always provided an aesthetic inspiration while serving ends as various and complex as ideological or geopolitical history, public memory, and mass entertainment.
Beautiful War is a bold and vivid account of the role of war and military conflict as a subject of art that offers much of value to literary and cultural critics, historians, veterans, students of art history and communication studies, and those interested in expanding their understanding of art and media’s influence on contemporary values and memories of the past.
Whether Thersites in Homer’s Iliad, Wilfred Owen in “Dulce et Decorum Est,” or Allen Ginsberg in “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” poets have long given solitary voice against the brutality of war. The hasty cancellation of the 2003 White House symposium “Poetry and the American Voice” in the face of protests by Sam Hamill and other invited guests against the coming “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq reminded us that poetry and poets still have the power to challenge the powerful. Behind the Lines investigates American war resistance poetry from the Second World War through the Iraq wars. Rather than simply chronicling the genre, Philip Metres argues that this poetry gets to the heart of who is authorized to speak about war and how it can be represented. As such, he explores a largely neglected area of scholarship: the poet’s relationship to dissenting political movements and the nation.
In his elegant study, Metres examines the ways in which war resistance is registered not only in terms of its content but also at the level of the lyric. He proposes that protest poetry constitutes a subgenre that—by virtue of its preoccupation with politics, history, and trauma—probes the limits of American lyric poetry. Thus, war resistance poetry—and the role of what Shelley calls unacknowledged legislators—is a crucial, though largely unexamined, body of writing that stands at the center of dissident political movements.
Latin epics such as Virgil’s Aeneid, Lucan’s Civil War, and Statius’s Thebaid addressed Roman aristocrats whose dealings in gifts, favors, and payments defined their conceptions of social order. In The Commerce of War, Neil Coffee argues that these exchanges play a central yet overlooked role in epic depictions of Roman society.
Tracing the collapse of an aristocratic worldview across all three poems, Coffee highlights the distinction they draw between reciprocal gift giving among elites and the more problematic behaviors of buying and selling. In the Aeneid, customary gift and favor exchanges are undermined by characters who view human interaction as short-term and commodity-driven. The Civil War takes the next logical step, illuminating how Romans cope once commercial greed has supplanted traditional values. Concluding with the Thebaid, which focuses on the problems of excessive consumption rather than exchange, Coffee closes his powerful case that these poems constitute far-reaching critiques of Roman society during its transition from republic to empire.
First runner-up for the 2019 Ray and Pat Browne Award for the Best Edited Collection in Popular and American Culture
Cultures of War in Graphic Novels examines the representation of small-scale and often less acknowledged conflicts from around the world and throughout history. The contributors look at an array of graphic novels about conflicts such as the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), the Irish struggle for national independence (1916-1998), the Falkland War (1982), the Bosnian War (1992-1995), the Rwandan genocide (1994), the Israel-Lebanon War (2006), and the War on Terror (2001-). The book explores the multi-layered relation between the graphic novel as a popular medium and war as a pivotal recurring experience in human history. The focus on largely overlooked small-scale conflicts contributes not only to advance our understanding of graphic novels about war and the cultural aspects of war as reflected in graphic novels, but also our sense of the early twenty-first century, in which popular media and limited conflicts have become closely interrelated.
Popular media can spark the national consciousness in a way that captures people’s attention, interests them in history, and inspires them to visit battlefields, museums, and historic sites. This lively collection of essays and feature stories celebrates the novels, popular histories, magazines, movies, television shows, photography, and songs that have enticed Americans to learn more about our most dramatic historical era.
From Ulysses S. Grant’s Memoirs to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, from Roots to Ken Burns’s The Civil War, from “Dixie” to “Ashokan Farewell,” and from Civil War photography to the Gettysburg Cyclorama, trendy and well-loved depictions of the Civil War are the subjects of twenty contributors who tell how they and the general public have been influenced by them. Sarah Kay Bierle examines the eternal appeal of Gone with the Wind and asks how it is that a protagonist who so opposed the war has become such a figurehead for it. H. R. Gordon talks with New York Times–bestselling novelist Jeff Shaara to discuss the power of storytelling. Paul Ashdown explores ColdMountain’s value as a portrait of the war as national upheaval, and Kevin Pawlak traces a shift in cinema’s depiction of slavery epitomized by 12 Years a Slave. Tony Horwitz revisits his iconic Confederates in the Attic twenty years later.
The contributors’ fresh analysis articulates a shared passion for history’s representation in the popular media. The variety of voices and topics in this collection coalesces into a fascinating discussion of some of the most popular texts in the genres. In keeping with the innovative nature of this series, web-exclusive material extends the conversation beyond the book.
Although the Renaissance epic was the principal literary means of representing war in its time, modern readers of the epic often lack a basic understanding of the history of warfare. Michael Murrin here offers the first analysis to bring an understanding of both the history of literature and the history of warfare to the study of the epic.
Analyzing English, Italian, and Iberian epics published between 1483 and 1610, Murrin focuses on particular aspects of warfare (cavalry clashes, old and new style sieges, the tactical use of the gun, naval warfare) and the responses to them by authors from Malory to Milton. Throughout, Murrin traces a parallel development in the art of war and in the epic as it emerged from the romance.
Murrin demonstrates that with new technology and increasing levels of carnage, the practice of war gradually drifted from traditional epic modes. But before changes in warfare completely doomed the tradition in which the epic was rooted, this crisis provoked an unprecedented range of experiment which marks heroic narrative in the late Renaissance and ultimately led to the epic without war.
A much-needed introduction to the neglected subject of warfare in epic literature, this work is an uncommonly wide-ranging exercise in comparative criticism that will appeal to historians and students of literature alike.
Why do we so often speak of books as living, flourishing, and dying? And what is at stake when we do so? This habit of treating books as people, or personifying texts, is rampant in postwar American culture. In this bracing study, Amy Hungerford argues that such personification has become pivotal to our contemporary understanding of both literature and genocide. Personified texts, she contends, play a particularly powerful role in works where the systematic destruction of entire ethnic groups is at issue.
Hungerford examines the implications of conflating texts with people in a broad range of texts: Art Spiegelman's Maus; Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451; the poetry of Sylvia Plath; Binjamin Wilkomirski's fake Holocaust memoir Fragments; and the fiction of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Don DeLillo. She considers the ethical consequences of this trend in the work of recent and contemporary theorists and literary critics as well, including Cathy Caruth, Jacqueline Rose, Jacques Derrida, and Paul de Man. What she uncovers are fundamentally flawed ideas about representation that underwrite and thus undermine powerful and commonly accepted claims about literature and identity. According to Hungerford, the personification of texts is ethically corrosive and theoretically unsound. When we exalt the literary as personal and construe genocide as less a destruction of human life than of culture, we esteem memory over learning, short-circuit debates about cultural change, lend credence to the illusion or metaphysics of presence, and limit our conception of literature and its purpose.
Ultimately, The Holocaust of Texts asks us to think more deeply about the relationship between reading, experience, and memorialization. Why, for instance, is it more important to remember acts of genocide than simply to learn about them? If literary works are truly the bearers of ontology, then what must be our conduct toward them? Considering difficult questions such as these with fresh logic, Hungerford offers us an invigorating work, one that will not only interest scholars of American and postwar literature, but students of the Holocaust and critical theory as well.
In Killer Apps Jeremy Packer and Joshua Reeves provide a detailed account of the rise of automation in warfare, showing how media systems are central to building weapons systems with artificial intelligence in order to more efficiently select and eliminate military targets. Drawing on the insights of a wide range of political and media theorists, Packer and Reeves develop a new theory for understanding how the intersection of media and military strategy drives today's AI arms race. They address the use of media to search for enemies in their analyses of the history of automated radar systems, the search for extraterrestrial life, and the development of military climate science, which treats the changing earth as an enemy. As the authors demonstrate, contemporary military strategy demands perfect communication in an evolving battlespace that is increasingly inhospitable to human frailties, necessitating humans' replacement by advanced robotics, machine intelligence, and media systems.
The Language of War examines the relationship between language and violence, focusing on American literature from the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. James Dawes proceeds by developing two primary questions: How does the strategic violence of war affect literary, legal, and philosophical representations? And, in turn, how do such representations affect the reception and initiation of violence itself? Authors and texts of central importance in this far-reaching study range from Louisa May Alcott and William James to William Faulkner, the Geneva Conventions, and contemporary American organizational sociology and language theory.
The consensus approach in literary studies over the past twenty years has been to treat language as an extension of violence. The idea that there might be an inverse relation between language and violence, says Dawes, has all too rarely influenced the dominant voices in literary studies today. This is an ambitious project that not only makes a serious contribution to American literary history, but also challenges some of the leading theoretical assumptions of our day.
In today's world, our television screens are filled with scenes from countless conflicts across the globe—commanding our attention and asking us to choose sides. In this insightful and wide-ranging book, Jim Hicks treats historical representation, and even history itself, as a text, asking questions such as Who is speaking?, Who is the audience?, and What are the rules for this kind of talk? He argues that we must understand how war stories are told in order to arm ourselves against them. In a democracy, we are each responsible for policy decisions taken on our behalf. So it is imperative that we gain fluency in the diverse forms of representation (journalism, photography, fiction, memoir, comics, cinema) that bring war to us.
Hicks explores the limitations of the sentimental tradition in war representation and asks how the work of artists and writers can help us to move beyond the constraints of that tradition. Ranging from Walt Whitman's writings on the Civil War to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and focusing on the innovative and creative artistic expressions arising out of the wars of the former Yugoslavia, Hicks examines how war has been perceived, described, and interpreted. He analyzes the limitations on knowledge caused by perspective and narrative position and looks closely at the distinct yet overlapping roles of victims, observers, and aggressors. In the end, he concludes, war stories today should be valued according to the extent they make it impossible for us to see these positions as assigned in advance, and immutable.
Modernity at Gunpoint provides the first study of the political and cultural significance of weaponry in the context of major armed conflicts in Mexico and Central America. In this highly original study, Sophie Esch approaches political violence through its most direct but also most symbolic tool: the firearm. In novels, songs, and photos of insurgency, firearms appear as artifacts, tropes, and props, through which artists negotiate conceptions of modernity, citizenship, and militancy. Esch grounds her analysis in important rereadings of canonical texts by Martín Luis Guzman, Nellie Campobello, Omar Cabezas, Gioconda Belli, Sergio Ramirez, Horacio Castellanos Moya, and others. Through the lens of the iconic firearm, Esch relates the story of the peasant insurgencies of the Mexican Revolution, the guerrilla warfare of the Sandinista Revolution, and the ongoing drug-related wars in Mexico and Central America, to highlight the historical, cultural, gendered, and political significance of weapons in this volatile region.
No matter when or where they are fought, all wars have one thing in common: a relentless progression to monuments and memorials for the dead. Likewise all art made from war begins and ends in mourning and remembrance. In The Mourner's Song, James Tatum offers incisive discussions of physical and literary memorials constructed in the wake of war, from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the writings of Stephen Crane, Edmund Wilson, Tim O'Brien, and Robert Lowell.
Tatum's touchstone throughout is the Iliad, not just one of the earliest war poems, but also one of the most powerful examples of the way poetry can be a tribute to and consolation for what is lost in war. Reading the Iliad alongside later works inspired by war, Tatum reveals how the forms and processes of art convert mourning to memorial. He examines the role of remembrance and the distance from war it requires; the significance of landscape in memorialization; the artifacts of war that fire the imagination; the intimate relationship between war and love and its effects on the ferocity with which soldiers wage battle; and finally, the idea of memorialization itself. Because all survivors suffer the losses of war, Tatum's is a story of both victims and victors, commanders and soldiers, women and men. Photographs of war memorials in Vietnam, France, and the United States beautifully augment his testimonials.
Eloquent and deeply moving, The Mourner's Song will speak to anyone interested in the literature of war and the relevance of the classics to our most pressing contemporary needs.
On War and Writing
Samuel Hynes University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress PN56.W3H96 2018 | Dewey Decimal 809.933581
“In our imaginations, war is the name we give to the extremes of violence in our lives, the dark dividing opposite of the connecting myth, which we call love. War enacts the great antagonisms of history, the agonies of nations; but it also offers metaphors for those other antagonisms, the private battles of our private lives, our conflicts with one another and with the world, and with ourselves.”
Samuel Hynes knows war personally: he served as a Marine Corps pilot in the Pacific Theater during World War II, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross. He has spent his life balancing two careers: pilot and professor of literature. Hynes has written a number of major works of literary criticism, as well as a war-memoir, Flights of Passage, and several books about the World Wars. His writing is sharp, lucid, and has provided some of the most expert, detailed, and empathetic accounts of a disappearing generation of fighters and writers. On War and Writing offers for the first time a selection of Hynes’s essays and introductions that explore the traditions of war writing from the twentieth century to the present. Hynes takes as a given that war itself—the battlefield uproar of actual combat—is unimaginable for those who weren’t there, yet we have never been able to turn away from it. We want to know what war is really like: for a soldier on the Somme; a submariner in the Pacific; a bomber pilot over Germany; a tank commander in the Libyan desert. To learn, we turn again and again to the memories of those who were there, and to the imaginations of those who weren’t, but are poets, or filmmakers, or painters, who give us a sense of these experiences that we can’t possibly know.
The essays in this book range from the personal (Hynes’s experience working with documentary master Ken Burns, his recollections of his own days as a combat pilot) to the critical (explorations of the works of writers and artists such as Thomas Hardy, E. E. Cummings, and Cecil Day-Lewis). What we ultimately see in On War and Writing is not military history, not the plans of generals, but the feelings of war, as young men expressed them in journals and poems, and old men remembered them in later years—men like Samuel Hynes.
The lingering aftereffects of the Vietnam War resonate to this day throughout American society: in foreign policy, in attitudes about the military and war generally, and in the contemporary lives of members of the so-called baby boom generation who came of age during the 1960s and early 1970s. While the best-known personal accounts of the war tend to center on the experience of combat, Maureen Ryan's The Other Side of Grief examines the often overlooked narratives—novels, short stories, memoirs, and films—that document the war's impact on the home front.
In analyzing the accounts of Vietnam veterans, women as well as men, Ryan focuses on the process of readjustment, on how the war continued to insinuate itself into their lives, their families, and their communities long after they returned home. She looks at the writings of women whose husbands, lovers, brothers, and sons served in Vietnam and whose own lives were transformed as a result. She also appraises the experiences of the POWs who came to be embraced as the war's only heroes; the ordeal of Vietnamese refugees who fled their "American War" to new lives in the United States; and the influential movement created by those who committed themselves to protesting the war.
The end result of Ryan's investigations is a cogent synthesis of the vast narrative literature generated by the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Together those stories powerfully demonstrate how deeply the legacies of the war penetrated American culture and continue to reverberate still.
A Prescription for Adversity makes the revolutionary case that Ambrose Bierce, far from being a bitter misanthrope, was instead both a compassionate and moral author. Berkove, focusing on Bierce's short fiction, establishes the necessity of recognizing the pattern of his intellectual and literary development over the course of his career. The author shows that Bierce, probably the American author with the most extensive experience of the Civil War, turned to classical Stoicism and English and French Enlightenment literature in his postwar search for meaning. Bierce's fiction arose from his ultimately unsatisfying encounters with the philosophies those sources offered, but the moral commitment as well as the literary techniques of heir authors, particularly Jonathan Swift, inspired him. Dating Bierce's fiction, and introducing uncollected journalism, correspondence, and important new literary history and biographical information, Berkove brings new insights to a number of stories, including "A Son of the Gods" and "A Horseman in the Sky," but especially "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," and presents compelling readings of the Parenticide Club tales and "Moxon's Master." A Prescription for Adversity substantiates how Bierce at his best is one of the few American authors who rises to the level of Mark Twain, and the only one who touches Jonathan Swift.
A work of both biography and literary criticism, this book rescues Ambrose Bierce and his literature from the neglect to which it has been assigned by "ill-founded, obtuse and unproductive approaches based on skewed notions of his personality and forced or facile readings of individual stories."
The Lost Generation has held the imagination of those who succeeded them, partly because the idea that modern war could be romantic, generous, and noble died with the casualties of that war. From this remove, it seems almost perverse that Britons, Germans, and Frenchmen of every social class eagerly rushed to the fields of Flanders and to misery and death. In The Road to Armageddon Cecil Eby shows how the widely admired writers of English popular fiction and poetry contributed, at least in England, to a romantic militarism coupled with xenophobia that helped create the climate that made World War I seem almost inevitable. Between the close of the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and the opening guns of 1914, the works of such widely read and admired writers as H. G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, J. M. Barrie, and Rupert Brooke, as well as a host of now almost forgotten contemporaries, bombarded their avid readers with strident warnings of imminent invasions and prophecies of the collapse of civilization under barbarian onslaught and internal moral collapse. Eby seems these narratives as growing from and in turn fueling a collective neurosis in which dread of coming war coexisted with an almost loving infatuation with it. The author presents a vivid panorama of a militant mileau in which warfare on a scale hitherto unimaginable was largely coaxed into being by works of literary imagination. The role of covert propaganda, concealed in seemingly harmless literary texts, is memorably illustrated.
As the world enters a new century, as it embarks on new wars and sees new developments in the waging of war, reconsiderations of the last century’s legacy of warfare are necessary to our understanding of the current world order. In Soldiers Once and Still, Alex Vernon looks back through the twentieth century in order to confront issues of self and community in veterans’ literature, exploring how war and the military have shaped the identities of Ernest Hemingway, James Salter, and Tim O’Brien, three of the twentieth century’s most respected authors. Vernon specifically explores the various ways war and the military, through both cultural and personal experience, have affected social and gender identities and dynamics in each author’s work.
Hemingway, Salter, and O’Brien form the core of Soldiers Once and Still because each represents a different warring generation of twentieth-century America: World War I with Hemingway, World War II and Korea with Salter, and Vietnam with O’Brien. Each author also represents a different literary voice of the twentieth century, from modern to mid-century to postmodern, and each presents a different battlefield experience: Hemingway as noncombatant, Salter as air force fighter pilot, and O’Brien as army grunt.
War’s pervasive influence on the individual means that, for veterans-turned-writers like Hemingway, Salter, and O’Brien, the war experience infiltrates their entire body of writing—their works can be seen not only as war literature but also as veterans’ literature. As such, their entire postwar oeuvre, regardless of whether an individual work explicitly addresses the war or the military, is open to Vernon’s exploration of war, society, gender, and literary history.
Vernon’s own experiences as a soldier, a veteran, a writer, and a critic inform this enlightening critique of American literature, offering students and scholars of American literature and war studies an invaluable tool for understanding war’s effects on the veteran writer and his society.
An interdisciplinary study of Katherine Anne Porter’s troubled relationship to her Texas origins and southern roots, South by Southwest offers a fresh look at this ever-relevant author.
Today, more than thirty years after her death, Katherine Anne Porter remains a fascinating figure. Critics and biographers have portrayed her as a strikingly glamorous woman whose photographs appeared in society magazines. They have emphasized, of course, her writing— particularly the novel Ship of Fools, which was made into an award-winning film, and her collection Pale Horse, Pale Rider, which cemented her role as a significant and original literary modernist. They have highlighted her dramatic, sad, and fragmented personal life. Few, however, have addressed her uneasy relationship to her childhood in rural Texas.
Janis P. Stout argues that throughout Porter’s life she remained preoccupied with the twin conundrums of how she felt about being a woman and how she felt about her Texas origins. Her construction of herself as a beautiful but unhappy southerner sprung from a plantation aristocracy of reduced fortunes meant she construed Texas as the Old South. The Texas Porter knew and re-created in her fiction had been settled by southerners like her grandparents, who brought slaves with them. As she wrote of this Texas, she also enhanced and mythologized it, exaggerating its beauty, fertility, and gracious ways as much as the disaffection that drove her to leave. Her feelings toward Texas ran to both extremes, and she was never able to reconcile them.
Stout examines the author and her works within the historical and cultural context from which she emerged. In particular, Stout emphasizes four main themes in the history of Texas that she believes are of the greatest importance in understanding Porter: its geography and border location (expressed in Porter’s lifelong fascination with marginality, indeterminacy, and escape); its violence (the brutality of her first marriage as well as the lawlessness that pervaded her hometown); its racism (lynchings were prevalent throughout her upbringing); and its marginalization of women (Stout draws a connection between Porter’s references to the burning sun and oppressive heat of Texas and her life with her first husband).
During and after the Civil War, southern women played a critical role in shaping the South’s
evolving collective memory by penning journals and diaries, historical accounts, memoirs,
and literary interpretations of the war. While a few of these writings—most notably Mary
Chesnut’s diaries and Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone with the Wind—have been studied in
depth by numerous scholars, until now there has been no comprehensive examination of
Civil War novels by southern women. In this welcome study, Sharon Talley explores works
by fifteen such writers, illuminating the role that southern women played in fashioning
cultural identity in the region.
Beginning with Augusta Jane Evans’s Macaria and Sallie Rochester Ford’s Raids and
Romance of Morgan and His Men, which were published as the war still raged, Talley offers
a chronological consideration of the novels with informative introductions for each time
period. She examines Reconstruction works by Marion Harland, Mary Ann Cruse, and
Rebecca Harding Davis, novels of the “Redeemed” South and the turn of the century by
Mary Noailles Murfree, Ellen Glasgow, and Mary Johnston, and narratives by Evelyn Scott,
Margaret Mitchell, and Caroline Gordon from the Modern period that spanned the two
World Wars. Analysis of Margaret Walker’s Jubilee (1966), the first critically acclaimed Civil
War novel by an African American woman of the South, as well as other post–World War
II works by Kaye Gibbons, Josephine Humphreys, and Alice Randall, offers a fitting conclusion
to Talley’s study by addressing the inaccuracies in the romantic myth of the Old South
that Gone with the Wind most famously engraved on the nation’s consciousness.
Informed by feminist, poststructural, and cultural studies theory, Talley’s close readings
of these various novels ultimately refute the notion of a monolithic interpretation of
the Civil War, presenting instead unique and diverse approaches to balancing “fact” and
“fiction” in the long period of artistic production concerning this singular traumatic event
in American history.
Sharon Talley, professor of English at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, is the author
of Ambrose Bierce and the Dance of Death and Student Companion to Herman Melville. Her
articles have appeared in American Imago, Journal of Men’s Studies, and Nineteenth-Century
In The Unwritten War, Daniel Aaron examines the literary output of American writers—major and minor—who treated the Civil War in their works. He seeks to understand why this devastating and defining military conflict has failed to produce more literature of a notably high and lasting order, why there is still no "masterpiece" of Civil War fiction.
In his portraits and analyses of 19th- and some 20th-century writers, Aaron distinguishes between those who dealt with the war only marginally—Henry Adams, Henry James, William Dean Howells, Mark Twain-and those few who sounded the war's tragic import—Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and William Faulkner. He explores the extent to which the war changed the direction of American literature and how deeply it entered the consciousness of American writers. Aaron also considers how writers, especially those from the South, discerned the war's moral and historical implications.
The Unwritten War was originally published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1973. The New Republic declared, [This book's] major contribution will no doubt be to American literary history. In this respect it resembles Edmund Wilson's Patriotic Gore and is certain to become an indispensable guide for anyone who wants to explore the letters, diaries, journals, essays, novels, short stories, poems-but apparently no plays-which constitute Civil War literature. The mass of material is presented in a systematic, luminous, and useful way.
Wallace Stevens and the Apocalyptic Mode focuses on Stevens’s doubled stance toward the apocalyptic past: his simultaneous use of and resistance to apocalyptic language, two contradictory forces that have generated two dominant and incompatible interpretations of his work. The book explores the often paradoxical roles of apocalyptic and antiapocalyptic rhetoric in modernist and postmodernist poetry and theory, particularly as these emerge in the poetry of Stevens and Jorie Graham.
This study begins with an examination of the textual and generic issues surrounding apocalypse, culminating in the idea of apocalyptic language as a form of “discursive mastery” over the mayhem of events. Woodland provides an informative religious/historical discussion of apocalypse and, engaging with such critics as Parker, Derrida, and Fowler, sets forth the paradoxes and complexities that eventually challenge any clear dualities between apocalyptic and antiapocalyptic thinking.
Woodland then examines some of Stevens’s wartime essays and poems and describes Stevens’s efforts to salvage a sense of self and poetic vitality in a time of war, as well as his resistance to the possibility of cultural collapse. Woodland discusses the major postwar poems “Credences of Summer” and “The Auroras of Autumn” in separate chapters, examining the interaction of (anti)apocalyptic modes with, respectively, pastoral and elegy.
The final chapter offers a perspective on Stevens’s place in literary history by examining the work of a contemporary poet, Jorie Graham, whose poetry quotes from Stevens’s oeuvre and shows other marks of his influence. Woodland focuses on Graham's 1997 collection The Errancy and shows that her antiapocalyptic poetry involves a very different attitude toward the possibility of a radical break with a particular cultural or aesthetic stance.
Wallace Stevens and the Apocalyptic Mode, offering a new understanding of Stevens’s position in literary history, will greatly interest literary scholars and students.
Thomas Hardy's "The Dynasts" and Leo Tolstoy's "War & Peace" are both works which defy attempts to assign them to a particular genre but might seem to have little else in common apart from being set in the same period of history. This study argues that there are important similarities between these two works and examines the close correspondence between Hardy's and Tolstoy's thinking on themes relating to war, ideas of the heroic and the concept of free will. Although coming from very different backgrounds, both writers were influenced by their experiences of war, Tolstoy directly, by involvement in the wars in the Caucasus and the Crimea, and Hardy indirectly, by the events of the Anglo-Boer Wars. Their reaction to these experiences found expression in their descriptions of the wars fought against Napoleon at the beginning of the century. Hegel saw Napoleon as 'the great world-historical man of his time', and this work considers the ways in which Hardy and Tolstoy undermine this view, portraying Napoleon's physical and mental decline and questioning the role he played in determining the outcomes of military actions. Both writers were deeply interested in the question of free will and determinism and their writings reveal their attempts to understand the nature of the force which lies behind men's actions. Their differing views on the nature of consciousness are considered in the light of modern research on the development of the conscious brain.