Drawing on trauma theory and taking the figure of the shell-shocked soldier as my point of departure, I suggest that, unlike most of its contemporaries, the response to war trauma posed by Rebecca West's The Return of the Soldier is not only an enactment of Freud's theory of the death drive but part of a peculiar experience of survival. Desire is used as the framework for healing, and the reunion with the lost love becomes essential to the soldier's bearing witness to trauma. Particular attention is paid to the active role of Margaret as listener-companion and to the function of testimony as a mode of access to the truth. In the context of the literature of the Great War, West's novel can be read as an alignment between witnesses. Trauma, thus, becomes a record that has to be made with the aid of the witness, the listener and the teller.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2010|
- Rebecca West
- The Return of the Soldier