Literature and War Readalong 2011

Since the days of Voltaire’s Candide and even before (Grimmelshausen’s Simplicissimus or Homer’s Illiad….), war has had a prominent place in literature.

I recently had a look at my TBR piles and realized I would easily come up with 12 books centering on one war or the other. I ruled out quite a few books, like MatterhornThe Thin Red Line andCatch 22, as they were by far too long. I hope that much more people will feel like participating, if the books are not too chunky. The only really substantial one I included is Elsa Morante’s La Storia aka History. As you can see, there are always a few novels on the same war following each other.

I would like to post on the chosen books on the last Friday of every month (with the exception of November) which leaves us with the following dates.

January, Friday 28

Susan Hill: Strange Meeting (UK), WWI, 192 pages

February, Friday 25

Jennifer Johnston: How Many Miles to Babylon? (Ireland), WWI, 156 pages

March, Friday 25

Rebecca West: The Return of the Soldier (UK), WWI, 92 pages

April, Friday 29

Carol Ann Lee: The Winter of the World (UK), WWI, 316

May, Friday 27

Shusaku Endo: The Sea and Poison aka Umi to dokuyaku (Japan), WWII, 167 pages

June, Friday 24

Primo Levi: If this is a man  aka Se questo è un uomo (Italy), WWII, 180 pages

July, Friday 29

Marguerite Duras: Hiroshima, mon amour (France), WWII

August, Friday 26

Elsa Morante: History aka La Storia (Italy), WWII, 768 pages

September, Friday 30

Tim O’Brien: The Things They Carried (US), Vietnam, 256 pages

October, Friday 28

Tatjana Soli: The Lotus Eaters (US), Vietnam, 40o pages

November, Saturday 26

Heinrich Böll: The Silent Angel (Germany), WWII, 184 pages

December, Friday 30

Charles Frazier: Cold Mountain (US), American Civil War, 448 pages

Please add also comments if and when you want to join and let me know when you reviewed one of the books as well and I will add the link to my post.

Here is the Original Post with Comments

January Introduction

January Post Strange Meeting by Susan Hill

January Wrap up

February Introduction

February Post How Many Miles to Babylon by Jennifer Johnston

February Wrap up

March Introduction

March Post The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

March Wrap up

April Introduction

April Post The Winter of the World by Carol Ann Lee

April Wrap up

May Introduction

May Post The Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo

May Wrap up

June Introduction

June Post Survival in Auschwitz/If This is a Man by Primo Levi

July Introduction

July Post Hiroshima Mon Amour by Marguerite Duras and Alain Resnais Book and Movie

August Introduction

August Post La Storia aka History by Elsa Morante

September Introduction

September Post The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

October Introduction

October Post The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

November Introduction

November Post The Silent Angel by Heinrich Böll

December Introduction

December Post Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

22 thoughts on “Literature and War Readalong 2011

  1. Pingback: Review: Strange Meeting by Susan Hill « Diary of an Eccentric

  2. Oh! I am SO GRATEFUL for this list — especially the WWI books, since I never finished my dissertation [the DD or “darn” dissertation, as it’s known in my house] on French and British poetry of the Great War; I love the novels of that era as well [and about that era] and have quite a collection, but I’ve missed some of these, so thank you! (I keep dreaming that some day I’ll start over and finish the blasted thing, in which case my vast trove of WWI lit will serve me well. IF I can ever get it out of the boxes it’s been in since my last move — in August 2008!!)

    • You are welcome to the readalong and you are not alone. I haven’t finished my Ph.D. either. It was about Haitian literature and I am pretty sure I will not finish it. The poets of the great war that’s a challenging topic. there must be thousands of secondary publications… If you narrow it down (maybe you did), maybe there would be an option to finish. My topic alos had the problem that it was too vast plus interdisciplinary which (ten years ago!) wasn’t a rave at the time.

      • My ex-DDD [“Darn” Dissertation Director] had no problem with the topic of my book (“The Unreturning Army: The Voice of the Dead Soldier in French and British Poetry of the Great War” — SNORE), but my undergrad prof/mentor was furious that the ex-DDD would “let” me write on such a big topic. I thought we had it narrowed down pretty well, but UP/M was actually JEALOUS of the ex-DDD, so I just had to ignore her. 🙂
        And these days, no one even knows when WWI took place, so why would they want to read a doctoral dissertation on the poetry? (I taught a class in the Rio Grande Valley of the Shadow of Death — at the Univ. of Texas Pan American — on the Literature of the World Wars; first day, I walked in and asked, “When did the First World War begin?” The assembled sheep looked around until one brave soul finally said, “Um, 1945?”
        Oy veh. [And I’m Lutheran. :)]
        As to secondary publications, you wouldn’t BELIEVE the scads of books out there. And I own quite a good few of them, but I still haven’t begun to fight, as it were! Some day …

        • Isn’t it incredible that there is always someone jealous out there? It does sound as if it had been narrowed down nicely but still I am sure the literature is huge. I hear from others that students these days have a hard time knowing anything older than a couple of years. Even so I think the Great War is still of a lot of interest in the academic world and in Europe at least. I would love to read your input, If you feel like joining. I posted an poem of Owen as introduction to the January reading as the title of the book Strange Meeting was taken from his poem. Did you read The Regeneration Trilogy?

  3. Pingback: Review: How Many Miles to Babylon? by Jennifer Johnston « Diary of an Eccentric

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