Postwar World War I Fiction

On December 10, 2008 at the Central Library, author Keith Gandal discussed his new book The Gun and the Pen: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and the Fiction of Mobilization. Check out Gandal’s work, other literary criticism, or some postwar World War I novels by American writers.

Postwar novels by Hemingway, Fitzgerald & Faulkner | Literary criticism of postwar novels | More postwar World War I fiction

Postwar novels by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, & Faulkner

The Sun Also Rises book jacket

The Sun Also Rises (1926)
By Ernest Hemingway
Correspondent Jake Barnes and the unconventional Lady Brett Ashley are among the American and English expatriates living in Paris following the devastation of World War I. Suffering from a war wound that renders him impotent, Jake is nonetheless caught up in an unusual relationship with Brett, who is engaged to the affluent Mike Campbell. As Jake and his traveling companions head to Pamplona, Spain, to fish and take in the bullfighting scene, amateur boxer Robert Cohn and bullfighter Pedro Romero also find themselves falling for the enigmatic Brett.

A Farewell to Arms (1929)
By Ernest Hemingway
By turns romantic and harshly realistic, Hemingway's story of a tragic romance set against the brutality and confusion of World War I cemented his fame as a stylist and as a writer of extraordinary literary power. A volunteer ambulance driver and a beautiful English nurse fall in love when he is wounded on the Italian front.

Find more books by Ernest Hemingway in the library.

This Side of Paradise book jacket

This Side of Paradise(1920)
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
The story of Amory Blaine's adolescence and undergraduate days at Princeton, This Side of Paradise captures the essence of an American generation struggling to define itself in the aftermath of World War I and the destruction of "the old order."

The Great Gatsby (1925)
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald's tale of American values in the jazz age of the 1920s is one of the great classics of 20th-century literature.

Find more books by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the library.

The Sound and the Fury book jacket

Soldiers Pay (1926)
By William Faulkner
Faulkner tells the story of three soldiers, veterans of World War I, who return home after the war and how their homecoming impacts the ones that they love.

The Sound and the Fury (1929)
By William Faulkner
First published in 1929, Faulkner created his "heart's darling," the beautiful and tragic Caddy Compson, whose story Faulkner told through separate monologues by her three brothers--the idiot Benjy, the neurotic suicidal Quentin and the monstrous Jason.

Find more books by William Faulkner in the library.

Literary criticism of postwar novels

The Gun and the Pen book jacket

The Gun and the Pen: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and the Fiction of Mobilization
By Keith Gandal
Keith Gandal shows that Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner were motivated, in their famous postwar novels, not by their experiences of the horrors of war but rather by their failure to have those experiences. The Gun and the Pen restores these seminal novels to their proper historical context and proffers a radical revision of our understanding of the impact of World War I on twentieth-century American literature.

Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises
Edited by Harold Bloom
This book contains concise critical excerpts that provide a scholarly overview of The Sun Also Rises. It details the conditions under which the work was written and includes a biographical sketch of the author, a descriptive list of characters, an extensive summary and analysis, and an annotated bibliography.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Edited by Nicolas Tredell
The Great Gatsby is a classic of modern American literature and is often seen as the quintessential novel of “the jazz age.” This guide sets this book in its historical, intellectual and cultural contexts, offering analyses of its themes, style and structure. It includes points for discussion and suggestions for further study.

William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury
Edited by Harold Bloom
This book presents concise, easy-to-understand biographical, critical, and bibliographical information on The Sound and the Fury.

More postwar World War I fiction

Three Soldiers book jacket

Three Soldiers (1921)
By John Dos Passos
Part of the generation that produced Ernest Hemingway and Ford Maddox Ford, Dos Passos wrote one of the most grimly honest portraits of World War I. Based on his experience as an ambulance driver in wartime Europe, Three Soldiers has been hailed as a masterpiece since its original publication in 1921.

One of Ours (1922)
By Willa Cather
Cather's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel explores the life of Claude Wheeler, a young Nebraskan who refuses to settle for a life others have imagined for him. Alienated from his parents and rejected by his wife, Wheeler finally finds his destiny on the bloody battlefields of World War I.

The Enormous Room (1922)
By E.E. Cummings
A high-energy romp, the poet's prose memoir recounts his military service in World War I, when a comedy of errors led to his unjust arrest and imprisonment for treason.

Company K (1931)
By William March
Stemming directly from the author's experiences with the U.S. Marines in France during World War I, the book consists of 113 sketches, or chapters, tracing the fictional Company K's war exploits and providing an emotional history of the men of the company that extends beyond the boundaries of the war itself.

Johnny Got His Gun (1939)
By Dalton Trumbo
Winner of the National Book Award, Dalton Trumbo’s stark, profoundly troubling masterpiece about the horrors of World War I brilliantly crystallized the uncompromising brutality of war and became the most influential protest novel of the Vietnam era.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.