I understand that you've got a new autobiography out. It's called Doing Battle, and it is about the way the war I fought in -- the Second World War, where I fought as an infantry officer -- has pursued me all my life and has helped determine my attitudes and my behavior.
The Vietnamese to us were not merely communiststhey were nasty little yellow people without souls. It didn't matter how we blew them up or how we bombed them or how we burned their villages and so on. I was very struck by that.
And one thing I was trying to do in The Great War and Modern Memory was to awaken a sort of civilian sympathy for the people who suffer on the ground in wartime, and that's really an act that I've been performing, oh, ever sinceI suppose. I was very interested in the Great War, as it was called then, because it was the initial twentieth-century shock to European culture.
By the time we got to the Second World War, everybody was more or less used to Europe being badly treated and people being killed in multitudes. The Great War introduced those themes to Western culture, and therefore it was an immense intellectual and cultural and social shock.
Robert Sherwoodwho used to write speeches for Franklin D. Rooseveltonce noted that the cynicism about the Second War began before the firing of the first shot. By that time, we didn't need to be told by people like Remarque and Siegfried Sassoon how nasty war was.
We knew that already, and we just had to pursue it in a sort of controlled despair. It didn't have the ironic shock value of the Great War. And I chose to write about Britain because America was in that war a very, very little time compared to the British — just a few months, actually.
The British were in it for four years, and it virtually destroyed British society.
I'm a pacifist about certain things. I'm a pacifist in the way I define national interest. I use this example frequently: If the Mexicans decided to cross the Texas border with firearms, I would be down there in a moment with a rifle and a whistle to direct the troops to repel them.
If the United States is attacked, I will defend it. Those are not American interests. They're private-money interests, and that bothers me a great deal.
One of my favorite quotes is from Hemingwaywho said, "Never persuade yourself that war, no matter how necessaryis not a crime.
Sometimes it's necessary, but it's always awful, and that's my point. Fussell here slightly paraphrases Hemingway's statement from his Foreword to Treasury for the Free World Never think that war, no matter how necessary nor how justified, is not a crime.
Ask the infantry and ask the dead. It's ironic because everybody believes that life is pleasurable, and they should. They have a right to believe that, especially if they're brought up under a Constitution that talks about the pursuit of happiness.
To have public life shot through with that kind of optimism and complacency is the grounds for horrible, instructive irony when those generalities prove not true.
War tends to prove them not true. War is about survival and it's about mass killing and it's about killing or being killed — that is, in the infantry — and it is extremely unpleasant.
One realizes that a terrible mistake has been made somewhere, either by the optimistic eighteenth century or by mechanistic twentieth century.
The two don't fit together somehow, and that creates, obviously, irony. After every war, there's an immense overhaul of languagewhich in the Western world has created really the cultural and artistic phenomenon of what we call modernism ; that is, a paring down of everything to minimal size, including language and ideas of grandeur, and ideas of a possibility of the state making everybody happy, and things like that.
That modernism is really a form of skepticism or minimalism. You cut out everything that has deceived you and throw it away, and that leaves you with things like the Eames chair and Picasso and numerous other outcrops of modernism.
One thing one can't help noticing is the efficacy of religion before the nineteenth century at dealing with these problems and answering some of these unanswerable questions.
By the time of the Great War, religion is practically dead. By the time of the Second World War, it's no help at all.
The chaplains that were attached to the infantry that I was in practically never did spiritual work because they knew they'd be ridiculed. What they did was to apply bandages and surgical scissors, assisting the medics and calming people down psychologically.
But everybody recognized that religion was no help whatever. Irony is a great help in helping to penetrate fraudulent language. In the Second War especially, the language became virtually identical with the language of advertising.Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic [Paul Fussell] on attheheels.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
In this highly-praised autobiographical work, the author of The Great War and Modern Memory recounts his own experience of combat in WWII and how it became a determining force in his attheheels.coms: Paul Fussell’s most popular book is With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa.
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|Betty Fussell - Wikipedia||From that position, the influence of his early subjects, such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Johnson, became evident in his scalpel-like dissections of American society.|
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|Profile: Paul Fussell | Books | The Guardian||Personal life[ edit ] Fussell was born and raised Riverside, California on July 28, She married her college sweetheart Paul Fussell in and had two children, Rosalind and Sam Fussell.|
|The Initial Shock . . .||Biography[ edit ] Born and raised in Pasadena, CaliforniaFussell was the second of three children.|
PAUL Fussell almost made it to Memorial Day, He died Wednesday in Medford, Ore., at An American writer, Fussell served as a young infantryman in World War II and wrote of it in his books.
Scarred by his experiences in France in , Paul Fussell has sought to demystify the romanticism of battle, beginning with his literary study of the Great War. His latest book is about American.
Apr 25, · Paul Fussell, professor of English at Rutgers, can use contemporary references bril liantly. He not only makes a good case for “black humor” in .