Wall, Watchtower, and Pencil Stub

Writing During World War II

LIST PRICE $33.95
About The Book

How World War II became central in our culture.

Even as World War II raged on, contemporary writers were riveted by its every twist and turn. One of the war’s most fascinating features was that it was subject to constant change, surprises, and fate reversal. It ensured that wartime writers, who did not yet know of its outcome, adopted points of view that were entirely spontaneous, rather than based on historical hindsight.

This remarkable book presents the war in its entirety, with all its force, suspense, and drama. With exceptional clarity it shows how the extreme events of war challenged writers, inspired their art, and in turn produced a modern legacy of literature.

Wall, Watchtower, and Pencil Stub makes a convincing case for the permanent centrality of World War II in our present-day culture, literature, and history. The war was not separate from the cultural trends that preceded it before 1939, or the postwar world after 1945. In this extraordinary book, many of the major writers of the time—Samuel Beckett, Richard Hillary, Norman Mailer, Pearl Buck, James Jones, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, and others—are put in an entirely new context.

About The Author

John R. Carpenter is a writer, editor, and leading translator of books and poetry. He has achieved the National Endowment for the Arts three times and won a series of awards honoring his translations.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Yucca (September 2014)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781631580048

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Raves and Reviews

“World War II and its consequences will not leave our consciousness and sense of civilization; the question of the circumstances under which the best writers made their voices heard remains as urgent today as it ever was. John R. Carpenter is to be congratulated on his detailed and courageous refutation of the often heard saw that in wartime, the Muses are silent. His book belongs in all academic as well as public collections.” —Emery George, poet and editor of Contemporary East European Poetry

“John Carpenter’s Wall, Watchtower, and Pencil Stub is the story of writing, and the urgency of communication, during World War II. This fascinating and engaging account discusses work from many nations and touches on a wide variety of examples, from sophisticated literature to scrawled notes thrown by prisoners from trains. The pages dealing with the war’s role in fostering distrust of rhetoric, euphemism, and abstraction are especially timely in this era of marketing and political newspeak.” —Philip Fried, poet and editor of the Manhattan Review

"This book’s real strength is in what it suggests about our desire (and perhaps need) to bear witness to war’s horrors."—Booklist

“World War II and its consequences will not leave our consciousness and sense of civilization; the question of the circumstances under which the best writers made their voices heard remains as urgent today as it ever was. John R. Carpenter is to be congratulated on his detailed and courageous refutation of the often heard saw that in wartime, the Muses are silent. His book belongs in all academic as well as public collections.” —Emery George, poet and editor of Contemporary East European Poetry

“John Carpenter’s Wall, Watchtower, and Pencil Stub is the story of writing, and the urgency of communication, during World War II. This fascinating and engaging account discusses work from many nations and touches on a wide variety of examples, from sophisticated literature to scrawled notes thrown by prisoners from trains. The pages dealing with the war’s role in fostering distrust of rhetoric, euphemism, and abstraction are especially timely in this era of marketing and political newspeak.” —Philip Fried, poet and editor of the Manhattan Review

"This book’s real strength is in what it suggests about our desire (and perhaps need) to bear witness to war’s horrors."—Booklist

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