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War at a Distance


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This book is a masterpiece. Brilliant, brave, and beautifully written, it combines precision with lyricism. It will be required reading for scholars and students in Romantic studies, but its appeal will hardly be limited to them, since the topic is relevant to anyone interested in the nature and effects of war in our own time. -- Kevis Goodman, University of California, Berkeley War at a Distance is an important, exquisite, and thoughtful consideration of the affective experiences of wartime. Favret helps us to reconsider the Romantic imagination as one haunted by the measurelessness of war's effects. -- Celeste Langan, University of California, Berkeley Favret's vividly realized and impeccably argued analysis demonstrates that state-sponsored violence was not merely a political or military matter, but had profound consequences for how Romantic thinkers--many living far from the ground zeroes dotting the globe--imagined and conducted themselves, experienced time, and thought about the future. War at a Distance is not only a sobering reflection on what it means to live with oneself and with others amid military modernity, but also an irrepressible call for peace. -- David Clark, McMaster University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix PRELUDE: A Winter's Evening 1 PART I: Modern Wartime: Media and Affect CHAPTER ONE: Introduction: A Sense of War 9 War Mediated 12 Worlds Without and Within 22 Wartime Without Limits 30 War as All Wars 40 World Wars 43 CHAPTER TWO: Telling Time in War 49 Wartime 49 Modes of Temporality, Structures of Feeling 53 The Post-Boy and the News 59 The Meantime 68 Prophecy 81 INTERLUDE: Still Winter Falls 98 PART II: Invasions CHAPTER THREE: War in the Air 119 Live Air 120 Beyond Control 123 Early Weather Science: Grounding the Weather 126 A Georgics of the Sky 131 Voices in the Air 138 CHAPTER FOUR: Everyday War 145 A History of Suffering 146 No Peace 151 Diverting Away the Time 161 A Broken Story 165 INTERLUDE: A Brief History of the Meaning of War 173 PART III: War in the World CHAPTER FIVE: Viewing War at a Distance 187 War in Pictures 190 Worlding India 198 The Historical Sublime 212 The Rope-Bridge 220 CODA: Undone 230 Acknowledgments 235 Bibliography 239 Index 255

About the Author

Mary A. Favret is associate professor of English at Indiana University. She is the author of "Romantic Correspondence: Women, Politics and the Fiction of Letters".


"Delivering its impressive literary insights in a tone of humane regret, War at a Distance is a reminder of shared responsibility and shared concern. In Favret's compelling image, we are suspended before and between armed conflicts on the shakiest of rope-bridges, and the place of safety we are heading for is out of sight."--Times Literary Supplement "Thoughtful, sophisticated, and subtle, this book analyzes the way war figures in Romantic writing, i.e., the way Romantic writing figuratively engages civilians' always-mediated experience of distant warfare... Engaging clearly and intelligently with critical work by such thinkers as Raymond Williams, Dominick LaCapra, Susan Sontag, and Amanda Anderson, this book demonstrates that the contemporary experience of wartime has its roots in the Romantic imagination."--Choice "I found Favret's narrative compelling. To connect all the necessary dots, she needed to lace together a fine web of interrelated texts of all kinds--verbal, visual, and historical. The final product stands up to the weight of scrutiny as well as entertains with a bravura performance of looking back and ahead in equal measures. Mired ourselves at a distance in our endless War on Terror, we should look long and hard at Favret's War at a Distance not only for the sources of our coping mechanisms, but also for the origins of how we separate ourselves from the reality of waging war and, perhaps unconsciously, contribute to how wars begin."--Bob Duggan, The Big Think "War at a Distance deserves to be read and argued about in history, comparative literature and classics for years to come... [T]his is the kind of book that encourages you to try out its ideas on works you may already know, and then rethink them, just as it makes you want to learn about the poets it discusses and the critics who played a role in its writing."--James Tatum, New Books on Literature "Favret also manages the delicate task of reading the past in terms of our present without obliterating the former's distinctiveness. As erudite in the history and discourses of war as it is in the literature and culture of Romanticism, War at a Distance is an essential book in the field."--Ian Duncan, Studies in English Literature War at a Distance moves with impressive sweep between wartimes past and present, from the Revolution and Napoleonic conflicts of two centuries ago to the first and second Gulf Wars. The book is a stirring and powerful meditation on what it means to live in a time of war... Mary Favret's book teaches us to attend to the tumult that passes just out of reach of conscious apprehension; it attunes the reader to the sights and sounds of war passing beyond our ken. War at a Distance is a stunning achievement."--Noel Jackson, Wordsworth Circle "[T]his is a brilliant and sophisticated book. It offers a wonderfully comprehensive and innovative study that builds not only upon Favret's own formative work on Romanticism and war, but also masterfully condenses and reorients the growing body of work in the field that has appeared over the last fifteen years."--Neil Ramsey, Studies in Romanticism "One of the most significant contributions to the category of general Romanticism this year is Mary A. Favret's War at a Distance. [It] is a consistently insightful consideration of the connections between wartime and everyday life--how the pain and suffering of soldiers is experienced and processed by their family and friends, the people who are left behind."--Year's Work in English Studies

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