The nature of war literature

After completing the reading material for week 4 of the course, I truly have to say that I love war literature very much, especially as an individual who comes from a country that has participated in war literature into two world wars, world war 1 and world war 2, and then the civil war.

Literary war is always a special topic in literature in all countries. If the gun is the deciding factor in the war, then the pen is the weapon to raise awareness and call for everyone's attention about that war. As mentioned in chapter 5 of the book The Great War and Modern Memory, in 1914, there were almost no cinemas, radio or television, so literature was found in books, periodicals or through anecdotes from friends and rumors (Fussell 171). If compared with Vietnam at that period, I can say that the literacy rate of the vast majority of people was very low and they often only heard other people tell stories they had witnessed or told by others. So literature during the war, whether oral or written, also plays an important role in arousing people's awareness of war.

In the chapter “Oh What a Literary War,” it is also mentioned how much people had to read to be able to write at that time (Fussell 175). I can understand this because I have read two works "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque and "The Unwomanly Face of War" by Svetlana Alexievich. If "All Quiet on the Western War" is the first and complete work about World War I, then "The Unwomanly Face of War" is the completion of the details and circumstances of the events in the battle with other perspectives. In general, I feel that the latter work is something that complements the previous work. So I think that the writer also read previous war works, combined with their own experiences and experience, creating resonance for their own work.

In terms of the use of language in works, the author can exaggerate, fictionalize and add details to make readers feel the harshness of the war. As mentioned in the Problem of Factual Testimony section, it is written “it is rich in terms like blood, terror, agony, madness, shit, cruelty, murder, sell-out, pain and hoax, as well as phrases like legs blown off, intestines gushing out over his hands, screaming all night, bleeding to death from the rectum, and the like.” (Fussell 184). Clearly, the visual language of the war helps readers imagine what war is and how cruel it is. Paul also affirms that: “Whatever the cause, the presumed inadequacy of language itself to convey the facts about trench warfare is one of the motifs of everyone who wrote about the war” (Fussell 185). Here we can see that the ultimate purpose of language is to convey truth, which is the framework of writers in the field of war literature.

Regarding the motivation for writing such literary works, besides the writer wanting to raise people's awareness about war, there is another factor that the writer himself is also the one who suffered the pain. That pain was one so that they took up writing to express their feelings and the experience of the people at that time (Fussell 186). To be able to express his own feelings, the writer used metaphors, rhetorical comparisons, poetic rhythm, rhyming, allusions, sentence structures to express the ideas, and cause and effect relationships in one's own writing style. From there, literature creates convincing and engaging words, which help readers believe in what happened to them. Take “The Soldier” by Rupert Brooke as an example, based on the theme and context, we can feel the patriotism in every single word of the poem. I believe that the way we use imagery vocabulary is also the way we can show our emotions and feelings. 


A thorough treatment of this week's readings. I'm curious about your description of Brooke's patriotic poetry in contrast to the more graphic language you cite from Fussell. What do you think accounts for the difference between the two?