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War No More

The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature, 1861-1914

Cynthia Wachtell

Publication Year: 2010

Until now, scholars have portrayed America’s antiwar literature as an outgrowth of World War I, manifested in the works of writers such as Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. But in War No More, Cynthia Wachtell corrects the record by tracing the steady and inexorable rise of antiwar writing in American literature from the Civil War to the eve of World War I. Beginning with an examination of three very different renderings of the chaotic Battle of Chickamauga—a diary entry by a northern infantry officer, a poem romanticizing war authored by a young southerner a few months later, and a gruesome story penned by the veteran Ambrose Bierce—Wachtell traces the gradual shift in the late nineteenth century away from highly idealized depictions of the Civil War. Even as the war was under way, she shows, certain writers—including Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, John William De Forest, and Nathaniel Hawthorne—quietly questioned the meaning and morality of the conflict. As Wachtell demonstrates, antiwar writing made steady gains in public acceptance and popularity in the final years of the nineteenth century and the opening years of the twentieth, especially during the Spanish-American War and the war in the Philippines. While much of the era’s war writing continued the long tradition of glorifying battle, works by Bierce, Stephen Crane, Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, William James, and others increasingly presented war as immoral and the modernization and mechanization of combat as something to be deeply feared. Wachtell also explores, through the works of Theodore Roosevelt and others, the resistance that the antiwar impulse met. Drawing upon a wide range of published and unpublished sources, including letters, diaries, essays, poems, short stories, novels, memoirs, speeches, magazine and newspaper articles, and religious tracts, Wachtell makes strikingly clear that pacifism had never been more popular than in the years preceding World War I. War No More concludes by charting the development of antiwar literature from World War I to the present, thus offering the first comprehensive overview of one hundred and fifty years of American antiwar writing.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

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p. xi-xi

In the great academic paradise in the sky, all scholarly works are completed in less than a week and are so flawless that their authors have no need for . . .

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pp. 1-12

In the pages of Walden, Henry David Thoreau describes a ferocious battle waged on the shores of Walden Pond in Concord, . . .

Part I Writing the Civil War

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1 Writing a Battle: Three Versions of Chickamauga

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pp. 15-22

On September 19, 1863—two years, five months, and one week into the slog of the Civil War—the Army of the . . .

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2 The Civil War in Popular Poetry: "God and Right"

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pp. 23-31

To the ears of modern readers, the high-toned lines written by men and women who were moved by the spectacle of a war . . .

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3 Sir Walter Scott's Legacy and the Romance of the Civil War

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pp. 32-40

In order fully to understand the literary proclivities of the war generation, it is necessary to understand the impact of the writings of . . .

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4 Herman Melville: "Battle No More Shall Be"

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pp. 41-60

Despite tremendous resistance from readers, editors, and critics, some authors did stray from the accepted conventions . . .

5 John William De Forest: "The Whole Truth about War and Battle"

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pp. 61-79

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6 Walt Whitman: "That Hell Unpent"

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pp. 80-99

Neither a distant onlooker, like Melville, nor an officer in the trenches, like John William De Forest, Walt Whitman . . .

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7 The Civil War Rewritten in the Postwar Decades

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pp. 100-110

A near uniform reluctance to challenge the idealized representation of the Civil War shaped American literature published . . .

Part 2 The Changing Ways of Fighting and Writing War

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8 The Rapid Modernization of Weaponry and Warfare

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pp. 113-123

Each new generation of American soldiers has marched to war shouldering a new generation of firearms, and it is impossible . . .

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9 Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Monitor, and the Morality of War

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pp. 124-135

Before the Civil War staggered to its conclusion, the prominent New England novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne . . .

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10 War as Experienced and Imagined by Mark Twain

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pp. 136-146

One extremely prominent American writer alert to the changing ways of war in the late nineteenth century was the . . .

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11 The War Novels of Stephen Crane, Joseph Kirkland, and Frank Stockton

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pp. 147-154

By the 1890s America had moved solidly into the industrial age. Andrew Carnegie had modernized the steel industry.

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12 American Writers at War: Cuba and the Philippines

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pp. 155-169

Arriving at the very close of the nineteenth century, the Spanish- American War and the Philippine-American War put to the . . .

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13 The Pacifist Ideology of William James and George Kirkpatrick

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pp. 170-178

As the twentieth century loomed, Americans were still struggling to interpret the implications of modern, machine . . .

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pp. 179-187

In the nearly fifty years that separated the Civil War from World War I, American antiwar writing gradually gained in popularity and . . .


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pp. 189-212

Works Cited

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pp. 213-222


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pp. 223-233

E-ISBN-13: 9780807137505
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807145630

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2010