American Literature and the Experience of Vietnam

Overview


American Literature and the Experience of Vietnam is a perceptive and evocative book that is both a comprehensive discussion of the literature of the war and a study of literature and literary consciousness considered in relation to the larger process of cultural myth-making.

In his exploration of the ways in which writers have tried to make sense of the Vietnam experience, Philip Beidler brings to light a whole literature that in its moments of fullest achievement quite ...

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Overview


American Literature and the Experience of Vietnam is a perceptive and evocative book that is both a comprehensive discussion of the literature of the war and a study of literature and literary consciousness considered in relation to the larger process of cultural myth-making.

In his exploration of the ways in which writers have tried to make sense of the Vietnam experience, Philip Beidler brings to light a whole literature that in its moments of fullest achievement quite literally “creates” a Vietnam more real than reality. In his discussion of the literature of the war he turns his attention to a wide variety of literary texts: novels, plays, poems, memoirs, oral histories, and works of documentary and reportage.

Beidler begins with an analysis of the peculiar difficulties involved in writing about an experience like Vietnam. He moves from the early attempts to deal with the experience (including Norman Mailer’s Why Are We in Vietnam? and Arthur Kopit’s Indians) to more recent works as diverse as Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers, Tim O’Brien’s Going after Cacciato, Phillip Caputo’s A Rumor of War, Michael Herr’s Dispatches, the plays of David Rabe, the poems of John Balaban and Bruce Weigl, and recently published experiments in oral history such as Al Santoli’s Everything We Had and Mark Baker’s Nam.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Beidler’s books will undoubtedly be received as a definitive work on the Vietnam years in American literature. . . . There are so many truly brilliant insights in this book that I can barely begin to list them."--Jerome Klinkowitz, author of Writing under Fire and The American 1960s

"Beidler's discernment is fresh and illuminating, and unexpected in a book about war writing."--South Atlantic Review

"Sets forth what are sure to be lasting types of American literary response to Vietnam, and of scholarly response to the emerging literature of the war."--American Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820330242
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author


Philip D. Beidler is a professor of English at the University of Alabama. He has written or edited more than ten books. Beidler served as an armored cavalry platoon leader in Vietnam.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Preface     xi
Situation Report: The Experience of Vietnam     1
American Literature: Prophecy and Context     17
Early Vietnam Writing, 1958-1970     29
In the Middle Range, 1970-1975     85
The New Literature of Vietnam, 1975 to the Present     137
Conclusion     193
Afterword     203
Notes     209
Index     221
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