Writing After War: American War Fiction from Realism to Postmodernism

Paperback | September 1, 1994

byJohn Limon

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In Writing After War, John Limon develops a theory of the relationship of war in general to literature in general, in order to make sense of American literary history in particular. Applying the work of war theorists Carl von Clausewitz and Elaine Scarry, John Limon argues that The Iliadinaugurates Western literature on the failure of war to be duel-like, to have a beautiful form. War's failure is literature's justification. American literary history is demarcated by wars, as if literary epochs, like the history of literature itself, required bloodshed to commence. But in chapters on periods of literary history from realism, generally taken to be a product of the Civil War, through modernism, usually assumed to be aprediction or result of the Great War, up to postmodernism which followed World War II and spanned Vietnam, Limon argues that, despite the looming presence of war in American history, the techniques that define these periods are essentially ways of not writing war. From James and Twain, through Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and even Hemingway, to Pynchon, our national literary history is not hopelessly masculinist, Limon argues. Instead, it arrives naturally at Bobbie Ann Mason and Maxine Hong Kingston. Kingston brings the discussion full circle: The Woman Warrior,like The Iliad, appears to condemn the fall from duel to war that is literature's endless opening.

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From Our Editors

Limon's book is extraordinarily good. It is an important book, not only for students of American literature but for anyone concerned with the methodology and effective practice of cultural studies. The writing is, throughout, elegant, witty, and transparently accessible.

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In Writing After War, John Limon develops a theory of the relationship of war in general to literature in general, in order to make sense of American literary history in particular. Applying the work of war theorists Carl von Clausewitz and Elaine Scarry, John Limon argues that The Iliadinaugurates Western literature on the failure of ...

John Limon is Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Williams College. He is the author of The Place of Fiction in the Time of Science (1990).

other books by John Limon

Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.17 × 6.26 × 0.71 inPublished:September 1, 1994Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195087593

ISBN - 13:9780195087598

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From Our Editors

Limon's book is extraordinarily good. It is an important book, not only for students of American literature but for anyone concerned with the methodology and effective practice of cultural studies. The writing is, throughout, elegant, witty, and transparently accessible.

Editorial Reviews

"...Limon offers critical readings of an impressively wide range of authors. He is able to move with grace and aplomb between writers as different as Louisa May Alcott and Luce Irigaray....Writing After War is a thoughtful, learned interpretation of postwar American writing, and it makes avaluable contribution to the studies of American literature, aesthetics, and war."--CLIO