Paul Fussell, literary critc and historian, has died at the age of 88. The New York Times referred to him as a curmudgeon.
My first experience with Fussell’s work was during my sophomore year of college. Fussell’s short work, The Boy’s Crusade, was required reading in my class on perspectives of the Second World War. Fussell served as an infantryman on the Western Front as a ‘replacement’ after the D Day landings.
Vonnegut used Slaughterhouse 5 to discuss the horror of war in the American mindset. Fussell didn’t need fiction. His real life experiences were far, far more horrific precisely because they were lived.
Fussell’s dislike and even antipathy towards American popular culture, jingoism and politics makes his work some of the best work of the latter 20th century.