Rachel Galvin’s News of War is a major study of noncombatant poetry of the Spanish Civil War, the Sino-Japanese War, and World War II. The descriptor “civilian” in Galvin’s subtitle is no inert or arbitrary demarcation but in fact the book’s analytical keyword. The study’s six central poets—César Vallejo, W. H. Auden, Wallace Stevens, Raymond Queneau, Marianne Moore, and Gertrude Stein—not only were civilians themselves but also were occupied with the problem of the noncombatant poet’s authority, standing, and responsibility in writing of war. It’s right to characterize this as a “problem” because civilians were widely held, then as now, to lack both the firsthand experience and the physical imperilment that give combatant writings about war epistemological and ethical authority. A less careful scholar might have declared this a nonproblem on the grounds that the combatant–noncombatant dichotomy was being weakened during the...
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Book Review| March 01 2020
News of War: Civilian Poetry 1936–1945
News of War: Civilian Poetry 1936–1945. By Galvin, Rachel.
Oxford University Press,
Comparative Literature (2020) 72 (1): 103–105.
Paul K. Saint-Amour; News of War: Civilian Poetry 1936–1945. Comparative Literature 1 March 2020; 72 (1): 103–105. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-7910005
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