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Much of scholarship regarding the presence of war in literary modernism has foregrounded psychic trauma endured by veterans of World War I. The returning soldier is often figured as representative of the war’s infiltration of the homefront. The common argument claims that the erosion of the distinction between war and peace (as well as private and public) is a mirror image of the veteran’s wounded psyche. This thesis, however, argues that peace and war in the West have always been indistinct. The body politic is, in actuality, constituted by a perpetual civil war. Furthermore, the novels of William Faulkner, because of their concern with the long history of war, provide a significant entry point into a discussion of literary modernism that adequately recognizes the constitutive violence of perpetual civil war.
Advisor: Roland Végső