By Jeffrey Walsh (auth.)
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Extra resources for American War Literature 1914 to Vietnam
Frequently this impulse towards recollection manifests itself in a single memorable poem such as Bishop's 'In the Dordogne' or MacLeish's 'Memorial Rain'. ) In fiction and drama written in the thirties, too, novelists reassessed the First World War. Paths of Glory (1935), Humphrey Cobb's novel dramatising the French army mutiny, is concerned with military disobedience, a theme earlier treated very differently by E. E. Cummings in The Enormous Room; Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun (1939) depicts in the figure of his womb-like vegetable, Johnny, the ultimate post-war communication crisis, a huge bandage attempting to send messages.
16 The effect is to intensify the impression the reader receives of first hand colloquial speech forming emotional experience of war. Such lines typify Cummings's instinct to discover a new poetic language expressive of war. In order to redefine the war aesthetically, and follow the advice of such modernists as Pound to purge poetic language of its 'emotional slither', American poets ten years or so later occasionally returned in their work to 1914-18 to revalue the conflict poetically. Frequently this impulse towards recollection manifests itself in a single memorable poem such as Bishop's 'In the Dordogne' or MacLeish's 'Memorial Rain'.
The poetic meaning of his death in gaol is energised by Cummings into a satire of ,west pointers' who are 'succinctly bred' and who uphold the shibboleths of the Republic by religiously oppressing such rebels as Olaf whose only crime is to be a conscientious objector. The poet endorses by this presentation an alternative 'patriotism', that of rebellion. 'i sing of Olaf' is uncelebratory, antithetical in almost every way to the war poems discussed in the opening part of this chapter which rhetorically approve military glory.
American War Literature 1914 to Vietnam by Jeffrey Walsh (auth.)