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F. Scott Fitzgerald and WWI: The "Crack Up" Essays
By Colin Halloran
Paul Fussell, in his seminal The Great War and Modern Memory, posits that “logically, one supposes, there’s no reason why a language devised by man should be inadequate to describe any of man’s works. The difficulty was in admitting that the war had been made by man and was being continued ad infinitum by them” (170).*
While there is much debate and discussion over the “official” definition and dates of Modernism, we cannot overlook WWI and the ways it changed literary language. Broadly, the Modernist movement sought to move away from traditionalism and towards originality, particularly focusing on a “non-logical, non-objective, and essentially causeless mental universe.”**
Because the war itself was non-logical. Even the innovative language and stylizations that propelled Modernist writings prior to the war were suddenly inadequate after the horrors the world now knew humankind was capable of.