Novel The Real War Will Never Get in the Books by Louis P. Masur

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Novel The Real War
The Civil War was a written war. It was written by soldiers who kept diaries. It was written by family members who corresponded with soldiers at the front. It was written by journalists who reported from the battlefields and by editors who reshaped their newspapers and magazines to accommodate the desire for news of the war. And it was written by the nation's writers.

These writers, the novelists, essayists, and poets—struggled to capture the texture of the
extraordinary and the everyday. One writer who contemplated more deeply than most the meaning of this written war was Walt Whitman: "I have become accustomed to think of the whole of the Secession War in its emotional, artistic and literary relations.

The literary dimensions of the Civil War have eluded us. From the start, critics have searched for timeless works of literature inspired by the war. In seeking some American version of The Iliad, they have focused on what was written about the war following the war and have neglected what was penned at the time. As early as 1862, John Weiss, a Unitarian minister, expressed his hope that the conclusion of the war would make a great literature possible: "the pen is becoming tempered in the fires of a great national controversy." Five
years later, the impatient William Dean Ho wells, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, was ready to pass judgment. He set the terms for future critical discussion when he lamented that the war "has laid upon our literature a charge under which it has hitherto staggered very lamely.

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