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Sacrifice and Modern War LiteratureThe Battle of Waterloo to the War on Terror$
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Alex Houen and Jan-Melissa Schramm

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198806516

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198806516.001.0001

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Reckoning Sacrifice in ‘War on Terror’ Literature

Reckoning Sacrifice in ‘War on Terror’ Literature

Chapter:
(p.237) 15 Reckoning Sacrifice in ‘War on Terror’ Literature
Source:
Sacrifice and Modern War Literature
Author(s):

Alex Houen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198806516.003.0016

This chapter examines how novelists and poets explore the sacrificial reckonings of the ‘war on terror’ in terms of relations between faith (social and religious), sympathy, and bearing witness. It discusses Ian McEwan’s novel Saturday (2005) and two books of poetry: Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004) and Juliana Spahr’s this connection of everyone with lungs (2005). Both poems balance matters of aesthetics and ethics by comparing modes of bearing witness: watching spectacles of war through television, and testifying to responsibility for others’ lives. The chapter relates those to the contrasting kinds of sacrifice attributed to armed services personnel and jihadi ‘martyrs’. It then discusses how these modes of sacrifice and witnessing are examined in recent novels: Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil (2008) and The Blind Man’s Garden (2013); Lorraine Adams’s The Room and the Chair (2010); and James Meek’s We Are Now Beginning Our Descent (2008).

Keywords:   war on terror, martyrdom, witnessing, lyric poetry, realism, sacrifice, Nadeem Aslam, James Meek, Lorraine Adams, Claudia Rankine

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