The unnamed researcher-narrator of Canadian writer Timothy Findley's 1977 novel The Wars sifts through archival, and interview materials to reconstruct Robert Ross, a man silenced by received history, and court-martialled for his rejection of a martial masculinity. 'What are soldiers for?' asks Robert, initiating the novel's inquiry into empire and hegemonic formations of martial masculinity during World War One.1 Robert Kroetsch suggests that when we read The Wars 'what we witness is the collapse, for North American eyes, of the meta-narrative that once went by the name of Europe. Europa'.2 I would argue that we also witness Robert Ross's collapsing of a dominant and destructive master code of masculinity. Robert's response to his sister Peggy's uniformed fiancee - 'bastard! You bastard! What are soldiers for?' - prefaces his encounter with the brutal and unthinking masculinity of Teddy Budge, and Robert's entry into the highly masculinized territory of the wars.
Gittings, Christopher E., 'What are soldiers for?' Re-Making Masculinities in Timothy Findley's The Wars, Kunapipi, 18(1), 1996.