Review of Pacifism and English Literature: Minstrels of Peace, by R.S. White.

Some twenty years ago, Cary Nelson’s pivotal Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory (1989) invited us to re-examine the lost paths of our literature by setting canonical igures and texts into social contexts, and by reintroducing lost or minor igures and texts back into our literary conversation. Since, to paraphrase Nelson, history is a palimpsest between the past and the contemporary, rediscovering lost pasts can be a way to re-envision the future. R.S. White’s Pacifism and English Literature: Minstrels of Peace executes such a Nelsonian turn in its polemical exploration of the history of English literature through a paciist lens, seeking out moments when the literature mirrors a paciist vision. White asserts, in his introduction, he will ‘make no claim that there is a coherent and sustained tradition or “school” of paciist literature’ (1), but the book reads as a genealogy of a paciist literature if one were possible.

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Published 1 May 2010 in Volume 25 No. 1. Subjects: War.

Cite as: Metres, Philip. ‘Review of Pacifism and English Literature: Minstrels of Peace, by R.S. White..’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, 2010.