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Soldiers once and still : Ernest Hemingway, James Salter, & Tim O'Brien /
Alex Vernon.
Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, c2004.
xi, 314 p.
0877458863 (cloth : acid-free paper)
More Details
Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, c2004.
0877458863 (cloth : acid-free paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2004-12-01:
Vernon joins an interesting discussion of war and literature developed in such work as James Dawes's The Language of War (CH, Oct'02), Samuel Hynes's The Soldier's Tale (CH, Oct'97), John Limon's Writing after War (CH, Feb'95), and Margot Norris's Writing War in the Twentieth Century (CH, Sep'01). He focuses on "prose texts authored by combat veterans" because, he argues, combat experience has a major formative effect on both identity and literary style. Vernon is at his best when discussing how war shapes each of his three subjects' identities and literary work in terms of gender, both in their sense of their own masculinity and their attitudes toward women. Paradoxically, war produces and certifies masculinity even as it feminizes and emasculates soldiers--this has especially been true since the beginning of the 20th century--and its effect on veterans' male-female relationships is extremely complex. Vernon is less interesting and less persuasive when he argues that combat experience affects literary style, and his discussion of modernism and postmodernism is merely summative and adds little to his central argument. Still, he makes a valuable heuristic contribution to studies of war and gender, and to the tangled relationship between the two. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. G. Grieve-Carlson Lebanon Valley College
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2004
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Bowker Data Service Summary
Alex Vernon looks backwards through the 20th century & confronts issues of self & community in literature by war veterans, exploring how war & the military have shaped the identity of Hemingway, Salter & O'Brien.
Unpaid Annotation
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
Table of Contents
Reading American war literature, reading Ernest Hemingway
Reading twentieth-century American war literaturep. 29
War, gender, and Ernest Hemingwayp. 63
Reading James Salter
James Salter : biographic and cultural contextp. 89
The Hemingway influence and the very modern A sport and a pastimep. 190
From flying to writingp. 129
Death, desire, and the homosocialp. 153
Reading Tim O'Brien
O'Brien's literary projectp. 175
Submission and resistance to the self as soldier : Tim O'Brien's war memoirp. 201
Salvation, storytelling, and pilgrimage in The things they carriedp. 220
O'Brien's war, O'Brien's womenp. 242
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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