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Title: The Vietnam war narrative : fighting for purchase
Author: Kissick, Gary Richard.
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis comprises a Vietnam War novel written by a former anti-war activist (Please Set Me Free So I Can Destroy The Earth), an examination of the creative process as it pertains to that novel, and a critical look at narratives informing the novel, most notably Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War, Michael Herr's Dispatches, and Nathaniel Tripp's Father, Soldier, Son (all memoirs); Wallace Terry's Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans; and the fiction of Tim O'Brien and Larry Heinemann. Common to the narratives of Vietnam, including this novel, is the sense that the narrator has lost control of a story he nevertheless feels compelled to tell, thus finding himself engaged in a lonely struggle to order the incoherent. The story is not the story the narrator expected to tell; it is not the story of heroism and sacrifice told by his father. The war offers neither clear boundaries nor comfortable myths. It abounds with abominations, terrors, ambiguities, uncertainties, bitter ironies, strange beauty, squalor, guilt, and trauma. The narrator has no understanding of the war's higher strategy or political necessity and questions the very existence of such. He may be disillusioned, disgusted, shell-shocked, confused. Because the war cannot be easily apprehended, the narrator must fight for purchase. Many of the best Vietnam narratives wrestle with questions of how to apprehend truth, of the relation between art and experience, of the difference between fact and interpretation. They struggle to decipher a war that cannot even be illustrated on a map. Many strive for expiation, and thus help the American psyche come to terms with defeat and often dishonor. They illustrate perfectly the need for narrative, in both our personal lives and the life of a nation, to provide structure, coherence, and even necessary myth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available