In the modern era, children experiencing grief were encouraged to dry their tears and 'be good soldiers.' How was this phenomenon interrogated and deconstructed in the period's literature? Be a Good Soldier initiates conversation on the figure of the child in modernist novels, investigating the demand for emotional suppression as manifested later in cruelty and aggression in adulthood. Jennifer Margaret Fraser provides sophisticated close readings of key works by Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce, among others who share striking concerns about the concept of infantry - both as a collection of infants, and as foot soldiers of war. A phenomenon associated traditionally with Freud, Fraser instead uses a unique, Derridean theoretical prism to provide new ways of understanding modernist concerns with power dynamics, knowledge, and meaning. Be a Good Soldier establishes a pioneering, nuanced vocabulary for further historical and cultural inquiries into modernist childhood.
Jennifer Margaret Fraser holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Toronto.
Acknowledgements Introduction Children's Grief: The Return from Exile Chapter One Translating the Foreign Language of Childhood Grief:Joseph Conrad's Under Western Eyes Chapter Two Childhood Grief as Resident Alien in Jean Rhys' Five Novellas Chapter Three Grieving the Child of the Shell-Shocked Soldier in Rebecca West's The Return of the Soldier Chapter Four Childhood Grief on the Home-Front: Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier and Parade's End Chapter Five Creating a Space for Childhood's Sound Waves: Virginia Woolf's A Haunted House and The Waves Chapter Six The "Laughtears" of the Child Be Longing: James Joyce's Finnegans Wake Conclusion Creating Fictional Space for the Grief of the Child Notes Bibliography