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The War That Used Up WordsAmerican Writers and the First World War$
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Hazel Hutchison

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300195026

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300195026.001.0001

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(p.202) Five 1918—Compromises
The War That Used Up Words

Hazel Hutchison

Yale University Press

This chapter describes how army training between 1917 and 1919 also billeted a sheltered and privileged class of aspiring writers alongside other social strata and ethnic groups. The mobilized soldier of 1918, as both writer and subject, is a key figure in the emergence of the new literary culture of postwar America. Whether he represents the random victimization of the individual by the grotesque forces of society, government, and circumstance, or the creative defiance of the imaginative mind against conformity, the soldier provides the model for a new kind of antihero in American discourse—both fictional and poetic. His existential conundrum as an individual who has signed away his individuality opens up new and disturbing angles from which to explore the nature of consciousness or the position of the self in society—angles which are exploited in the work of later writers.

Keywords:   aspiring writers, mobilized soldier, literary culture, postwar America, antihero, American discourse

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