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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 December 2020

Rethinking Post–World War I Classics

Rethinking Post–World War I Classics

Recovering the Historical Context of the Mobilization

(p.3) 1 Rethinking Post–World War I Classics
The Gun and the Pen

Keith Gandal (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter lays out the book's argument and is divided into three parts. The first part introduces the literary-historical thesis that American modernist fiction by Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner reflects — in its plot and characters, the history of the mostly meritocratic mobilization for World War I. At the heart of the three 1920s novels by these authors are “love triangles” involving Anglo-male characters bested in love and war and thus compromised in their masculinity; desirable and promiscuous Anglo females whom the Anglo males cannot have; and ethnic or outsider upstart competitors (of the Anglos) who have ties to the military and get the Anglo girls. The second part of the chapter discusses the history of the mobilization, which is today partly forgotten, and it argues with “received ideas” about modernism and the wartime era that are mistaken or misleading. Specifically, it addresses received ideas about intelligence testing during the war and, more generally, treatment of immigrants and ethnic Americans in the period; it also discusses the military's treatment of blacks. The third part addresses the relevant personal histories of these authors: Fitzgerald was denied promotions he expected and never saw action; Hemingway and Faulkner were disqualified from service on physical grounds.

Keywords:   ethnic American, African American, intelligence testing, meritocratic, charity girl, new woman, The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, The Sound and the Fury

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