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The Gun and the PenHemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and the Fiction of Mobilization$
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Keith Gandal

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195338911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195338911.001.0001

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Postmobilization Romance

Postmobilization Romance

Transforming Military Rejection into Modernist Tragedy and Symbolism

Chapter:
(p.167) 6 Postmobilization Romance
Source:
The Gun and the Pen
Author(s):

Keith Gandal (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195338911.003.0006

These three authors, although compulsively writing out of a distress engendered by their “mobilization wounds,” learned by the time of writing their twenties masterpieces to submerge and transfigure this pain so as not to embarrass themselves with the revelation of their sense of inadequacy. All three had produced previous texts that openly address Anglo characters' humiliations in the military and so come off as bitter. The high modernism of Gatsby, Sun, A Farewell to Arms, and Sound, with its symbolism and its sense of tragedy (as opposed to bitterness), is a result of these authors developing the devices that allow them to disguise their mobilization traumas and thus to continue to exorcise them, but now obliquely. In Hemingway's and Faulkner's novels, “objective” sexual obstacles (injury, incest taboo) stand in for the military rejection that emasculated these Anglo authors, disguising and transfiguring it. Hemingway and Faulkner dignified the suffering of their Anglo alter egos by making their true loves impossible; Fitzgerald's alternative strategy for dignifying his sense of rejection was to split himself between two alter egos — one Anglo American and one ethnic American — and to give the experience of social rejection to a tragic character based only minimally on himself, namely, Gatsby.

Keywords:   incest, taboo, disability, love triangle, transfigure, The Beautiful and Damned, A Very Short Story, Soldiers' Pay, symbolism, tragedy

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