Oct 2, 2012

A War of Words

(NYTimes) ... the war years did indeed yield a vast outpouring of literature, as ordinary people and authors alike turned to writing as a way of coping with the war. Their works are becoming newly available to us in digital form, scholarly research and anthologies. But this popular writing is difficult for us to read: often, it does not reflect an individual voice and unique experience, and defies our expectations of “good” literature. But we cannot impose our tastes on the past without losing historical knowledge in the process. Nineteenth-century readers found comfort in repetition and in cookie-cutter forms of writing, much the way we might enjoy the endlessly recycled formulas of television drama. Because we measure writing from the past by modern standards, we have yet to discover Civil War literature. Continued