compelled to kill for many personal reasons, such as duty, fear or comradeship.
A small number, of course, refused to be compelled, even after the introduction
of conscription in 1916. The history of these conscientious objectors, some of
them ‘absolutists’, has been chronicled in detail elsewhere (both individual accounts and collectively). In the case of such active forms of protest in appearing
before a public, decision-making tribunal and becoming a conscientious objector,
research has indicated that the majority of documented objectors backed up
, ‘no man can be satisfied with the idea that war will be one of the permanent moral agencies of the world’, the rush to arms also possessed a ‘nobler
aspect’: that of comradeship, men marching as brothers and ‘the spirit of subordination of the individual to the common life’.13
One of Gilbert Cannan’s principal themes was this threat, as he perceived it,
to the role of the individual within the State posed by that state at war, a war
waged against other states and also, in effect, on some of its own citizens. He
began a chapter in Freedom on ‘The Man in the Street
succumb to the ‘inner blight’, the
fear of being afraid which swallowed Bowen. Raven’s difficulties were of a
more focused and specific nature; he found the almost entire lack of intellectual
or like-minded spiritual comradeship in the army hard to bear, and he longed
constantly for letters from home, the bonds with the ‘sweeter and saner’ life he
remembered. Meanwhile, his growing hatred of the war was based upon physical hardship and mental exhaustion, but there also existed a friction, as he
himself recognised, in spiritual terms. Raven began to see the conflict as a
He also thought of the situation in moral terms, wishing that any moral
results of the conflict, such as those of comradeship and brotherly love, would
outweigh the inevitable material losses, and he found himself frustrated by what
he saw as a lack of perception of these potential material losses by the general
populace; the holidaying people he observed at Cowes and in the train did not
seem to him to see that they were all on the brink of the ‘greatest abyss in
history’. Amidst the whirl of patriotic headlines, speeches and calls to arms he
wrote sadly from
/female?’ (1996: 196)
Anderson, despite seeing nationhood as a socio-cultural concept, a
given, like gender: ‘everyone can, should, will “have” a nationality, as he
or she “has” a gender’ (1991: 5), nowhere examines the role of gender in
nationhood. His national movements are run by men, for men; historically accurate perhaps, but his lack of examination is unimaginative in
relation to half of the populations of his imagined communities.3 His
view that ‘the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship’ (7) shows that ‘he ignores the significance of gender in
, anomalous solitude, distinct from the other two.
There is, however, a force working to mitigate Leafy’s estrangement:
the agency Gilroy labels conviviality. Gilroy identifies this force with ‘the
processes of cohabitation and interaction that have made multiculture an
ordinary feature of social life in Britain’s urban areas’.8 In the Kinjanjan
backwater Boyd evokes such cohabitation and interaction are not ordinary.
While the ‘good man’ of the novel’s title may suggest bonhomie, comradeship
among the British Commission personnel seldom goes beyond perfunctory
structural elements in the
mainstream Hollywood war film: defeat, combat, victory and
comradeship. 16 He
might also have added to this list of core signifiers four others:
leadership, forefathers, transformation and competitiveness.
Significantly, one of these themes, defeat, is absent in Dwan’s
Sands of Iwo Jima , which culminates in US marines raising the
flag on Mount
grand quarrel one day. She is. . . too much for
institutions. . . if she had influence enough not a mother should bring up
a child herself. . .’ (L 217). It is significant that ‘Florence Nightingale
described herself as “brutally indifferent to the rights and wrongs” of
her sex’ (Holt: 148) and organised her nursing school on hierarchical
principles borrowed from the army, creating bonds which Mary Daly
sees as typical of male comradeship rather than ‘sisterhood’ (Daly, 1979:
Elizabeth Gaskell sees the value of organisations to give support and
untroubled comradeship of Parnesius
and Pertinax in Puck of Pook’s Hill exists only in an unrecoverable past.
Bryan Cheyette’s ‘A race to leave alone’, the longest essay in this book,
addresses the question of Kipling and racism by examining how Jews are
represented throughout his oeuvre in poems and stories: some famous, others
obscure. The starting point for Cheyette’s complex and wide-ranging dis
cussion of Kipling’s work is Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism, ‘the
first and best account of the links between the racism and dehumanisation
of empire and of
old friends, sitting out under a big sky in rural New England.
1 Norman Rush, Subtle Bodies (New York: Knopf, 2013) . Subsequent references are given in the text as SB and in parentheses.
2 Jenny Hendrix, ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables: Norman Rush’s Subtle Bodies ’, Los Angeles Review of Books , 9 September 2013 .
3 Nicholas Dames, ‘Seventies Throwback Fiction: A Decade in Review’, n+1 , 21 (Winter 2014) .
4 Tim Horvath, ‘ Subtle Bodies : An Interview with Norman Rush’, Tin House , 25 November 2013 .
5 On comradeship in Whitman