Beyond Literary Landscapes—War in Literature

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column focuses on a snapshot of several varied representations of war in literature.  A wide-ranging topic, this column chooses three examples of combat from different time periods, which examine the political, economic, social, as well as physical and psychological effects of war, on both combatants, and non-combatants, such as civilians.


Some well-known works related to war include Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Homer’s The Iliad.

Other examples include The Wars by Timothy Findley and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.


These novels are set throughout Imperial Russia, Spain, and ancient Greece.


Many of these works take place in the 8, 19, and 20th centuries.


These novels may be of interest to AU learners who would like to learn more about specific wars throughout history, and their representation in literature, including the Napoleonic Wars, the Spanish Civil War, and the Trojan War.  In addition, these war-centric novels may be of interest to students who would like to further understand the psychological effects of war, during its time period and in its aftermath.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to War in Literature are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in HIST 309: Ancient Greece, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “surveys the political, military, social, and cultural history of one of the most influential civilizations of the ancient world.”  (No prerequisites are required).

Students may also consider HIST 367: The Second World War, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “is intended to provide a fuller understanding of the events and attitudes of the war years and of some of the arguments that are very much alive today concerning what really happened in that vital decade of 1937 to 1947.”   (Although no prerequisites are required, please note that this course is currently temporarily closed).  Happy reading!


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