The Boredom and Futility of War in Patrick White's Fiction

Annalisa Pes
2016 Le Simplegadi  
I: Questo articolo prende in esame la rappresentazione della guerra come espressione di inutilità e spreco nella narrativa di Patrick White, e in particolare nel racconto "After Alep", scritto nel 1945 quando l'autore era arruolato nella RAF come Intelligence Officer. Analizzando il racconto alla luce dell'approccio di White alla guerra come alla "più spaventosa perdita di tempo" della sua vita (Marr 1992: 493), l'articolo cerca di dimostrare come le strategie narrative utilizzate da White
more » ... zzate da White contribuiscano a de-mitologizzare la retorica della guerra e dell'eroe di guerra in un modo che può essere strumentale alla diffusione di un messaggio di pace attraverso la percezione dell'estremo senso di futilità trasmesso da qualsiasi guerra. Abstract II: This article investigates the representation of war in terms of uselessness and waste in the fiction of Patrick White, with a particular emphasis on the short story "After Alep", written in 1945 when the writer was enrolled in the RAF as an Intelligence Officer. By analysing the story in the light of White's approach to the war as to "the most horrifying and wasteful period" of his life (Marr 1992: 493), the article attempts to demonstrate how the narrative devices used by White contribute to demythologize the rhetoric of the war and of war heroes in a way that may be instrumental in conveying a message of peace out of the ultimate sense of futility transmitted by any war. The intense world-wide debate that developed in the immediate aftermath of World War II on the role of literature in wartime, and on the social and political commitment of writers in a nation recovering from war (McKernan 1989: 6), lay emphasis on the responsibility of literary culture of contributing to a process of education that should give readers an anti-war message and promote anti-war sentiments. Nevertheless, as Clare Rhoden notices, a fundamental difficulty in writing for anti-war discourse purposes stands on the risk of describing war violence and horrors in a way that, despite being intended to generate repulsion for the war, ends up sensationalizing the very same waste and barbarity that are supposed to be abhorred (Rhoden 2012: 5). Likewise, the risk in portraying soldiers' heroism and endurance is that of overshadowing the disgust with the
doi:10.17456/simple-28 fatcat:bmzldmbwczb2lnx5lp7zwqxrqq