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Gustav Hasford's Gothic Poetics of Demystification
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War Gothic in Literature and Culture
Soltysik Monnet A., Hantke S.
Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature
Gustav Hasford is the author of two important Vietnam War novels: The Short-Timers (1979), which was adapted by Stanley Kubrick into Full Metal Jacket (1987), and The Phantom Blooper (1990), its sequel. Relentlessly critical of the war that destroyed his generation, Hasford uses an array of Gothic themes, tropes and figures - such as the werewolf, vampire, and ghost - to describe the transformation of men into monsters that begins with basic training and can never be reversed. These and other Gothic devices allow Hasford to demystify and disenchant the Vietnam War, to strip it of euphemisms and official myths, and to reveal the violence that lays beneath. Unlike other well-known writers of the same generation, such as Michael Herr and Chris O'Brien, Hasford eschews postmodern techniques in order to pursue a rhetorical strategy of horror combined with black humor. The results are two novels of extraordinary ferocity, critical acumen and wit. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the specifically Gothic reading experience of ethical dilemma - a Gothic exercise in judgment - choreographed by both narratives.
Hasford, Full Metal Jacket, horror, black humor, The Short-Timers, The Phantom Blooper, Gothic
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