Doctor of Creative Arts
School of the Arts, English and Media
Thesis The aim of the thesis is to examine the features that are characteristic of the genre of war fiction and draw conclusions about their significance and literary purpose. After a discussion about the changes in the form of war novels from the Napoleonic to the Vietnam wars, the study analyses eight novels in terms of the key features of their use of focalisation, physical setting and narrative speed. In order to do this it proposes a development of Genette’s concept of narrative speed and a graphic technique to reveal underlying structural patterns. From this analysis it identifies two fundamental types of war novel, of which the chosen eight are variations: type A which focuses overwhelmingly on the battlefront and is characteristic of the realist combat novel, and type B which places the war story within a wider social context in a hybrid structure embracing other genres.
Creative work Following from the thesis, the creative work comprises a type B novel, Redemption, which examines the experience of Australians in the Vietnam War. It focuses on the twelve-month period between mid-1967 and mid-1968, culminating in the climactic events of the Tet and Mini Tet offensives as experienced by two groups of Australians, a civilian medical team based in the hospital at Bien Hoa, and an infantry unit caught up in the Battle of Coral. The Vietnamese experiences form the middle section of the novel, framed by accounts of the characters’ lives in the Sydney region before and after these events and coming to a conclusion in the rising tide of anti-war sentiment in the city. The form of the novel grows out of the theoretical work of the thesis, which includes an analysis of its structural patterns to compare with those of the other war novels.
Maitland, Barry Semple, ‘How to write a true war novel’: A study of the typology and structure of war novels, Doctor of Creative Arts thesis, School of the Arts, English and Media, University of Wollongong, 2021. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses1/1117
Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.