Conflict, Nationhood and Corporeality in Modern Literature: by Petra Rau

By Petra Rau

This assortment examines ways that glossy literature responds to the body-at-war, reading the results of violent clash at the physique in its literal and consultant types. Spanning literature from international War I to the current day, it comprises essays on pacifist theatre, torture, fascist fantasies, and uniforms and masculinity.

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39. Bourke, ‘Barbarisation’, 21. 40. See Hugo Slim, Killing Civilians: Method, Madness and Morality in War (London: Hurst, 2007). 41. Hew Strachan, ‘The Idea of War’, in Cambridge Companion, 7–15; 12. 42. , 15–25; 19–21. 43. Fredric Jameson, ‘War and Representation’, PMLA 124/5 (2009): 1532–47; 1533. 44. , 1547. 45. See Jan Mieszkowski, ‘Watching War’, PMLA 124/5 (2009): 1648–60. 46. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn, trans. Michael Hülse (London: Harvill, 1998), 125–6. Note that Sebald misspells the painter’s name: it is not Dumontin but Dumoulin.

In fact, by merely looking at the illustrations, the patriotism of the target readership (the soldiers in the trenches) would be aroused. 2 Herbert Cole, in Ernest Rhys, The Old Country (1917, p. 3 Herbert Cole, in Ernest Rhys, The Old Country (1917, p. 4 Herbert Cole, in Ernest Rhys, The Old Country (1917, p. 149) to established literary genres such as the pastoral to create a parallel, peaceful and ultimately illusionary world to further the troops’ fighting spirit. By sentimentalizing a national trope in such a suggestive manner, Rhys not only reinforced the aim of the war – ‘Isn’t this Worth Fighting For?

Eugene McNulty reads Sebastian Barry’s novel A Long Long Way as dramatizing a ‘schism in remembrance’ occasioned by the Irish soldiers deployed in the Allied cause in Flanders and against their own countrymen in the Easter Rising. The division in the Irish body politic is played out in the commemorative practices and agendas of these conflicts. In such contexts, dead bodies are also bodies of evidence (even in their politically expedient vanishing acts) of imperialist appropriation or anti-imperialist self-fashioning.

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