Dismantling Glory presents the most personal and powerful words ever written about the horrors of battle, by the very soldiers who put their lives on the line. Focusing on American and English poetry from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, Lorrie Goldensohn, a poet and pacifist, affirms that by and large, twentieth-century war poetry is fundamentally antiwar. She examines the changing nature of the war lyric and takes on the literary thinking of two countries separated by their common language.
World War I poets such as Wilfred Owen emphasized the role of soldier as victim. By World War II, however, English and American poets, influenced by the leftist politics of W. H. Auden, tended to indict the whole of society, not just its leaders, for militarism. During the Vietnam War, soldier poets accepted themselves as both victims and perpetrators of war's misdeeds, writing a nontraditional, more personally candid war poetry.
The book not only discusses the poetry of trench warfare but also shows how the lives of civilians--women and children in particular--entered a global war poetry dominated by air power, invasion, and occupation. Goldensohn argues that World War II blurred the boundaries between battleground and home front, thus bringing women and civilians into war discourse as never before. She discusses the interplay of fascination and disapproval in the texts of twentieth-century war and notes the way in which homage to war hero and victim contends with revulsion at war's horror and waste.
In addition to placing the war lyric in literary and historical context, the book discusses in detail individual poets such as Wilfred Owen, W. H. Auden, Keith Douglas, Randall Jarrell, and a group of poets from the Vietnam War, including W. D. Ehrhart, Bruce Weigl, Yusef Komunyakaa, David Huddle, and Doug Anderson.
Dismantling Glory is an original and compelling look at the way twentieth-century war poetry posited new relations between masculinity and war, changed and complicated the representation of war, and expanded the scope of antiwar thinking.
Lorrie Goldensohn is a superb writer with an exemplary presence of mind. Her attention to the "largeness of literary being" she finds in the poetry of war is balanced by an extraordinary moral and historical wakefulness. Rigorous, open to surprise and terror, she engages us in the struggle to see clearly the illogic of war and, as she says, "to keep imaginative faith with the species" that wages war and finds ingenious ways to justify itself. Dismantling Glory is a brilliant mosaic, at once learned, dramatic, urgent, mournful and exhilarating.
For anyone unacquainted with the history of war poetry in Britain and America during the twentieth century, Goldensohn's book is a good introduction.
The Dignities of Danger
The Troubled Stream
"Half in love with the horrors which we cried out against''
The Boundaries of War
The Burdens of Heroic Masculinity
Far with the Brave We Have Ridden
Wilfred Owen's "Long-famous glories, immemorial shames''
Introduction: The Fellowship of Death
"One must see and feel''
"The pity of War''
W. H. Auden: "The great struggle of our time''
Where the War Poets Were
Keith Douglas: Inside the Whale
"Simplify me when I'm dead''
"The glorious bran tub''
Randall Jarrell's War
The Particulars of the Poem
"He learns to fight for freedom and the State''
A Poetic and Semifeminine Mind
"Men wash their hands, in blood, as best they can''
"A fresh visionary tension''
American Poets of the Vietnam War
"Cry for us all, for learning our lessons well''
"Winning Hearts and Minds"
"Carrying the Darkness"
"Brothers in the Nam''
Men and Women and Women
Raids on Homer