The Gun and the Pen: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and the Fiction of Mobilization

Synopsis

Gandal contends that The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises and The Sound and the Fury were all written by men who were greatly influenced by their shared frustration of not serving in the American military's colossal war effort. At the same time, these same authors also observed, among other startling developments, the Army's first egalitarian treatment of ethnic or hyphenated-Americans in regard to officer selection. The Great War mobilization shaped large-scale shifts in American life,including the meritocratic assignment of recruits to military rank based on intelligence testing, rather than Anglo-social and family background; an unprecedented military propaganda campaign aimed at fighting venereal disease and the redefinition of masculinity as chaste, chivalrous and athletic; the incarceration of tens of thousands of prostitutes as well as "promiscuous" women in an effort to police American female sexual behavior; and a dramatic but failed effort to ban sexual contact between American troops and French prostitutes. Mobilization Fiction involves a fundamental rethinking of these three novels, as well as other modernist postwar prose of the 1920s and 30s, in view of this essential history of the Great War mobilization.

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