「失われた世代」の戦争神話──Faulkner,<i>Soldiers' Pay</i>,戦後印刷文化  [in Japanese] The Myth of the Lost Generation: Faulkner, <i>Soldiers' Pay</i>, Postwar Print Culture  [in Japanese]

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Abstract

<p>When William Faulkner made his debut with <i>Soldiers' Pay</i> (1926), the "war books boom" was cresting in postwar America. Though Faulkner established a firm foothold in the contemporary book market with his "war book," <i>Soldiers' Pay</i> never received the attention it deserves. This neglect can be attributed to Faulkner's failed performance as a war-wounded hero. This paper attempts to cast new light on this accepted myth of Faulkner's postwar persona of the war-wounded aviator by juxtaposing his photographs in uniform with his letters home, and by providing a new reading of <i>Soldiers' Pay</i>. </p><p>On December 1918, arriving at Oxford depot where his family was awaiting him, Faulkner appeared in his store-bought uniform. Allegedly, he was faking a limp at a time when his brother Jack was missing in action. Of a series of photographs of him in uniform with a cane in hand, many critics believed that Faulkner was immortalizing this dishonorable conduct. However, close attention to Faulkner's letters to his mother, Maud, shows it to be otherwise. Throughout Faulkner's letters, sent during flight training in Canada, the topic of uniforms and costumes recurs. Several times he promises to have a picture taken of him in uniform. Maud probably pressed him to send one, a request with which the son dutifully complied. Sometime around 1918-19, Maud, a professional painter, completed a portrait of the young Faulkner in officer's uniform modeled after the picture. Misled by the pervasive myth of Faulkner assuming the persona of the war-wounded aviator, critics misinterpreted the cane, a standard issue of the Royal Air Force, as being a walking stick to support his faked limp, and thus suspected a deep-seated trauma in Faulkner's psyche. In his letters, however, Faulkner candidly expresses that the war, "this business," will open up future career opportunities. He held no illusions about the glory and heroism of war. </p><p>Faulkner also candidly depicts his generation in <i>Soldiers' Pay</i>. The story of <i>Soldiers' Pay</i> revolves around the wounded war hero, Donald Mahon. The train episode at the outset seemingly introduces the theme of the Lost Generation. Mahon and Joe Gilligan represent those who were disillusioned by their war experience; however, there also enters Cadet Lowe, who stands for those who did not experience the war. Again, the theme of the Lost Generation reappears with war veterans in the dance party scene; yet, the leading role in the party is played not by them but by the younger generation of "the Boy, male and female." Just as the original title, <i>Mayday</i>, suggests, <i>Soldiers' Pay</i> features the new postwar generation of boys and flappers, not simply the Lost Generation as has always been thought.</p><p>During the postwar years 1921-25, in New Orleans and in New York, Faulkner was playing the role of a war veteran, really faking a limp this time, for his publishing circle. Probably as reward for the author's splendid performance, the "NOT A 'WAR BOOK'" novel gained favorable reviews as an authentic war book. When his performance became known to have been mere role playing, the book sank into oblivion. All the better for Faulkner and America, who both wanted to hide their undamaged figure beneath the masquerade of the Lost Generation, then widely in fashion in postwar print culture. </p>

Journal

  • The American Literature Society of Japan

    The American Literature Society of Japan 53(0), 21-35, 2017

    The American Literature Society of Japan

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