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Vietnam and BeyondTim O'Brien and the Power of Storytelling$
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Stefania Ciocia

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318207

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317767

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date: 22 November 2017

Remapping the National Landscape

Remapping the National Landscape

Chapter:
(p.91) 3 Remapping the National Landscape
Source:
Vietnam and Beyond
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846317767.004

This chapter analyses the literal and mythical geography of O'Brien's oeuvre, concentrating on those novels that capitalize on the austere connotations of the northern frontier, itself set against the national epic of the conquest of the West. It shows that neither landscape repays the contemporary ‘pioneer’ with a sense of security and belonging. Vietnam is the geographical location of the most visible traumas in O'Brien's narrative universe, yet, like all good war literature, O'Brien's writing deals with deeper, radical questions, with insecurities and ordeals that are part of ordinary human experience. With their ever-increasing focus on American society and culture, O'Brien's stories imply that it is just as easy to get lost in the apparent safety of familiar surroundings as in the unknown territory of Vietnam.

Keywords:   novels, northern frontier, Vietnam, war literature, human experience

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