“The Blackest Kernel”: Irony and the Poetics of Fear in Selected American Texts of the War in Vietnam
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This article discusses several American texts about the war in Vietnam, paying particular attention to Michael Herr’s memoir Dispatches and Gustav Hasford’s The ShortTimers. Using Paul Fussell’s model of the ironic pattern of war experiences recounted in literary texts authored by soldier-writers, the article argues that the close entanglement of the poetics of fear and a sense of Fussellian irony permeate the representations of the Vietnam War in these, as well as in other American books. The article also attempts to briefly categorise the representations of fear in several narratives of the war.
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