Knights of Faith: The Soldier in Canadian War Fiction

Title: Knights of Faith: The Soldier in Canadian War Fiction
Authors: Abram, Zachary
Date: 2016
Abstract: The war novel is a significant genre in twentieth-century Canadian fiction. Central to that genre has been the soldier’s narrative. Canadian war novelists have often situated the soldier’s story in opposition to how war has functioned in Canadian cultural memory, which usually posits war as a necessary, though brutal, galvanizing force. This dissertation on how novelists depict the Canadian soldier represents a crucial opportunity to examine Canadian cultures of militarization and how Canadian identity has been formed in close identification with the mutable figure of the soldier. The most sophisticated Canadian war novels engage with how militarism functions as a grand narrative in Canadian society, while enabling Canadians to speak about issues related to war that tend to be over-simplified or elided. This dissertation examines emblematic Canadian war novels – The Imperialist by Sara Jeanette Duncan, Generals Die in Bed by Charles Yale Harrison, Turvey by Earle Birney, Execution by Colin McDougall, The Wars by Timothy Findley, Broken Ground by Jack Hodgins, The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart, etc. – in order to trace how the representation of the Canadian soldier has shifted throughout the twentieth-century. Canadian war novels are culturally cathartic exercises wherein received notions of Canadian moral and military superiority can be safely questioned. The Canadian soldier, often characterized in official discourse as the personification of duty and sacrifice, has been reimagined by war novelists throughout the twentieth century as a site of skepticism and resistance. In many Canadian war novels, the soldier affords the opportunity to claim counter-histories, reject master narratives, and posit new originary myths.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -