Monday, May 28, 2007

How to Tell a War Story

From Tim O'Brien's novel: The Things They Carried

"A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If a the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil..."

3 Comments:

At 6:42 AM, Blogger gerry rosser said...

You know, I am not fond of pronunciamentos by authors who assume afer they achieve fame and fortune they know something the rest of us don't.
Having said that, I really like the quote you made.

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

This quote is IN the novel, not a pronunciamento made after he achieved some kind of fame and fortune. Plus, he was in Vietnam...

But yeah, it's a great, gritty, honest passage.

 
At 8:31 PM, Blogger Dave said...

The best war novel I've ever read was "War of the Rats" - it is uncomprimising in its cruelty and devastation and ends in death.
So much so, it please the pacifist in me.

 

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