"novel" = book-length prose account

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Feb 1 19:53:29 UTC 2005

At 2:25 PM -0500 2/1/05, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>Ah well, what do professors know?

Perhaps what this professor of English literature didn't know is not
that novels are [+ fictional] but just that Caputo's _A Rumor of War_
isn't a novel.  Caputo is generally known as a novelist and in
particular the author of Vietnam War novels.  Maybe Prof. Schumaker
hadn't quite gotten around to actually *reading* this memoir before
producing the annotation on his web site--which, it will be noted,
comes in the middle of a list of annotations of war novels of the
fictional variety, including _All Quiet on the Western Front_ and
_Slaughterhouse Five_.  Or, assuming absent-mindedness rather than
laziness, he'd read it but just assimilated it to the novels on his
list.  (I can imagine committing either of these sins more easily
than that of reanalyzing the lexical entry for _novel_.)  On the
other hand, the very next entry on Prof. Schumaker's reading list
after _A Rumor of War_ is a novel (or at least a "novel") by a North
Vietnamese author, _The Sorrow of War_, which is described as "the
perfect pendent [sic] to Caputo's novel", which makes one wonder.


>At 08:59 PM 1/31/2005, you [= Jon L.] wrote:
>>This has been discussed before, but here is an indisputable citation from
>>a professor of English literature.
>>"[Philip] Caputo's novel ["A Rumor of War"] is arguably the best US novel
>>of the Vietnam War.  A USMC officer in the first US Marine brigade to
>>arrive in Danang, Caputo's experience mirrors that of the whole country in
>>the late 60's.
>>"Paper Two due at the end of this novel"
>>             ---Richard Schumaker, University of Maryland, European
>>Division. http://faculty.ed.umuc.edu/~rschumak/    (then press "war and
>>"A Rumor of War" (1977) is an autobiographical account, catalogued by the
>>L of C under "Biography" and "Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975, Personal

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