Zitate von Paul Fussell

Paul Fussell Foto
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Paul Fussell

Geburtstag: 22. März 1924
Todesdatum: 23. Mai 2012

Paul Fussell war ein amerikanischer Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaftler. Er begann als Spezialist für die Englische Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts, ist aber insbesondere für sein 1975 erschienenes Werk The Great War and Modern Memory bekannt, eine heute klassische Studie über das Trauma, das der Erste Weltkrieg im kollektiven Bewusstsein einer ganzen Generation hinterließ. Zuletzt lehrte er Englische Literatur an der University of Pennsylvania. Wikipedia

Photo: U.S. Army, U.S. Army photograph / Public domain

Zitate Paul Fussell

„If the United States is attacked, I will defend it.
My problem is the United States' defending the interests of the Union Oil Company or the United Fruit Company. Those are not American interests. They're private-money interests, and that bothers me a great deal.“

—  Paul Fussell

Humanities interview (1996)
Kontext: I'm a pacifist about certain things. I'm a pacifist in the way I define national interest. I use this example frequently: If the Mexicans decided to cross the Texas border with firearms, I would be down there in a moment with a rifle and a whistle to direct the troops to repel them. If the United States is attacked, I will defend it.
My problem is the United States' defending the interests of the Union Oil Company or the United Fruit Company. Those are not American interests. They're private-money interests, and that bothers me a great deal.

„Irony is a great help in helping to penetrate fraudulent language.“

—  Paul Fussell

Humanities interview (1996)
Kontext: Irony is a great help in helping to penetrate fraudulent language. In the Second War especially, the language became virtually identical with the language of advertising. It was seen through by the troops, who knew what the truth was. It helped to sustain civilian support for the war, which was its purpose, after all. … And euphemism has remained, of course. It's a large part of the tone of public discourse. … It's now practiced on so wide and so official a scale that it's grown out of all proportion to what it was in the war.

„I was very interested in the Great War, as it was called then, because it was the initial twentieth-century shock to European culture.“

—  Paul Fussell

Humanities interview (1996)
Kontext: I was very interested in the Great War, as it was called then, because it was the initial twentieth-century shock to European culture. By the time we got to the Second World War, everybody was more or less used to Europe being badly treated and people being killed in multitudes. The Great War introduced those themes to Western culture, and therefore it was an immense intellectual and cultural and social shock.
Robert Sherwood, who used to write speeches for Franklin D. Roosevelt, once noted that the cynicism about the Second War began before the firing of the first shot. By that time, we didn't need to be told by people like Remarque and Siegfried Sassoon how nasty war was. We knew that already, and we just had to pursue it in a sort of controlled despair. It didn't have the ironic shock value of the Great War.
And I chose to write about Britain because America was in that war a very, very little time compared to the British — just a few months, actually. The British were in it for four years, and it virtually destroyed British society.

„Most Americans, in their sweet innocence, think that class has to do with money. But a glance at Donald Trump and Leona Helmsley will indicate that it has very little to do with money. It has to do with taste and style, and it has to do with the development of those features by acts of character.“

—  Paul Fussell

Humanities interview (1996)
Kontext: Most Americans, in their sweet innocence, think that class has to do with money. But a glance at Donald Trump and Leona Helmsley will indicate that it has very little to do with money. It has to do with taste and style, and it has to do with the development of those features by acts of character. That was one of my points: to try to separate class from mercantilism or commercialism.

„As a former soldier, what struck me is the absolutely heartless way that war was being pursued by the Americans, partly I think because of the race problem.“

—  Paul Fussell

Humanities interview (1996)
Kontext: As a former soldier, what struck me is the absolutely heartless way that war was being pursued by the Americans, partly I think because of the race problem. The Vietnamese to us were not merely communists, they were nasty little yellow people without souls. It didn't matter how we blew them up or how we bombed them or how we burned their villages and so on. I was very struck by that. And one thing I was trying to do in The Great War and Modern Memory was to awaken a sort of civilian sympathy for the people who suffer on the ground in wartime, and that's really an act that I've been performing, oh, ever since 1945, I suppose.

„War is about survival and it's about mass killing and it's about killing or being killed — that is, in the infantry — and it is extremely unpleasant.“

—  Paul Fussell

Humanities interview (1996)
Kontext: [On war as ironic]: It's ironic because everybody believes that life is pleasurable, and they should. They have a right to believe that, especially if they're brought up under a Constitution that talks about the pursuit of happiness. To have public life shot through with that kind of optimism and complacency is the grounds for horrible, instructive irony when those generalities prove not true. War tends to prove them not true. War is about survival and it's about mass killing and it's about killing or being killed — that is, in the infantry — and it is extremely unpleasant. One realizes that a terrible mistake has been made somewhere, either by the optimistic eighteenth century or by mechanistic twentieth century. The two don't fit together somehow, and that creates, obviously, irony.

„One of my favorite quotes is from Hemingway, who said, "Never persuade yourself that war, no matter how necessary, is not a crime." … It is. Sometimes it's necessary, but it's always awful, and that's my point.“

—  Paul Fussell

Fussell here slightly paraphrases Hemingway's statement from his Foreword to Treasury for the Free World (1946): Never think that war, no matter how necessary nor how justified, is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead.
Humanities interview (1996)

„To those on both sides who suffered.“

—  Paul Fussell

The dedication
The Boys' Crusade (2003)

„Those who fought know a secret about themselves, and it is not very nice.“

—  Paul Fussell

… They have experienced secretly and privately their natural human impulse toward sadism and brutality. As I say in this new book of mine, not merely did I learn to kill with a noose of piano wire put around somebody's neck from behind, but I learned to enjoy the prospect of killing that way. It's those things that you learn about yourself that you never forget. You learn that you have much wider dimensions than you had imagined before you had to fight a war. That's salutary. It's well to know exactly who you are so you can conduct the rest of your life properly.
Humanities interview (1996)

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