About the BookWar has always been a forceful theme in American fiction from the time when Stephen Crane wrote The Red Badge of Courage, his epic novel about the civil war. The present work focuses upon select post World War II novelists who debunk combat and look upon warfare as ridiculous and life negating. Novels about World War II are wide ranging in subject and content when compared to novels about World War I. The novelists of the First War focus on brutal hand-to-hand combat and war in trenches. However, novelists of the Second World War address larger issues pertaining to war, as their canvas is extremely broad. They demystify combat not only because it is violent but also focus on the latent dangers and long-term impact of war. These novelists move beyond depicting military tactics and strategies of fighting and tackle broader issues like totalitarianism of the army, dehumanization of soldiers who are a part of an army, the political implications of war, the criticism of the capitalistic society and the American greed which dragged the country into conflict.
In this work, the focus of attention is on five novelists: Norman Mailer, James Jones, Irwin Shaw, Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. Each of these writers had participated in the war and encountered its numerous horrors. The novels depict men attempting to ‘seize the day’ before death erases them, or struggling to articulate their own principles in a battle to retain rational integrity before the irrationality of death. Some novels like Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead are centered upon an ideological debate, while others like Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 and James Jones’s From Here to Eternity, look upon the army as a metaphor for the modern exploitative and corrupt society. Writers like Irwin Shaw and Kurt Vonnegut delve into human nature upholding that the moral degeneration of man is responsible for war.
The book will be useful for the students and teachers of English literature, and researchers in the field of war novels.About the Author/sManisha Mathur is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Mata Sundri College for Women, Delhi University. She graduated from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University and proceeded to do a Masters and a Ph.D. in English literature from Lucknow University. Fourteenth and seventeenth century British literature is one of the areas taught by her to Delhi University undergraduate students. Her area of specialization is American literature with special emphasis on war literature and Afro-American literature. Her areas of interest include postcolonial literature, dalit literature and gender studies.