Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poetic Obituaries: Among his [Paul Fussell's] many academic books

were "The Rhetorical World of Augustan Humanism: Ethics and Imagery from Swift to Burke" (1965), "Poetic Meter and Poetic Form" (1965; revised, 1979), and "Samuel Johnson and the Life of Writing" (1971).

These were books, he would later recall, that he was "supposed to write." Then it struck him that he might reach a wider audience by comparing the art and literature created in response to earlier wars with that inspired by World War I. What he discovered was a deep fissure between the romantic views of the past, which saw warfare as a stage for gallantry and heroism, and the disillusionment bred by the shocking slaughter and grim hopelessness of trench warfare, the hallmark of "the great war."

from The New York Times: Paul Fussell, Literary Scholar and Critic, Is Dead at 88


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