Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War

TitleWartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1989
AuthorsFussell, Paul
Number of Pages330
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York

In this volume, the author examines the immediate impact of the Second World War on common soldiers and civilians. He describes the psychological and emotional atmosphere of World War II. He analyzes the euphemisms people needed to deal with unacceptable reality; he describes the abnormally intense frustration of desire and some of the means by which desire was satisfied; and, most important, he emphasizes the damage the war did to intellect, discrimination, honesty, individuality, complexity, ambiguity and wit. This volume also engages in serious discussion of the literature of the time. The author examines, for instance, how the great privations of wartime resulted in roccoco prose styles that dwelt longingly on lavish dinners, and how the "high-mindedness" of the era and the almost pathological need to "accentuate the positive" led to the downfall of the acerbic H. L. Mencken and the ascent of E. B. White. He also offers astute commentary on Edmund Wilson's argument with Archibald MacLeish, Cyril Connolly's Horizon magazine, the war poetry of Randall Jarrell and Louis Simpson, and many other aspects of the wartime literary world. This volume offers a view of the Second World War accentuated by the author's personal experiences fighting in the war and his years of literary research.

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