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Title: Passing from the night : myth in American narratives of the Vietnam War
Author: Tarnowska, E. H.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1995
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This thesis analyses mythology as expressed in selected American narratives of the Vietnam War. Myth not only manifests itself in literature, but also impinges on interpretations of history, and on political rhetorics. I distinguish, therefore, between primary, national (historical), and political myths as three interlocking levels within the mythological system. The narrative structure of the primary myth combines Campbell's pattern of the universal hero-myth and the symbology of Jung's archetypes. This constitutes the virtually universal foundation of all myths, including national myths, and their contemporary offspring - political myths. The appeal of political and national mythologies depends on the universal message of the primary narrative. The archetypal hero-tale with its quest-journey and initiation sequence remains valid as a paradigm for war literature. This is also the structural frame of Vietnam narratives which reiterate the hero-myth pattern in concrete historical circumstances. Literature rewrites and mythologises the war. Vietnam authors tend to go away from the tenets of political and national myth, and turn towards the universal themes of the initiation of a warrior, or of atonement and redemption. The writing of Mailer, Herr, and O'Brien involves a quest for the hidden meaning of conflict (chapters 1, 3). Other authors also seek to determine whether the combat experience is an ultimate test for potentially glorious warriors, or a spiritual descent of fallen heroes (chapters 4, 5).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available