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Philosophy and History

If we base the literary works of Tim O’Brien which he created, can we say that King should be included among the great personalities in the Literary Canon? First, we have to take a look at the meaning of the Western canon from English encyclopaedias and we could find that being in the canon you have made one of the greatest works that gathered artistic merit through a canon of books, music and art that has an authority in shaping Western culture. Such category can contribute to the educational development as well as the development of our culture basing from the elite classification.

Because of its highest regard in literature, literary canon has denoted many meanings with the attempt to literally change its true significance. The actual inclusion of arts in the Canon lists, are Literature, poetry, fiction and drama, autobiographical writings and letters, Philosophy and History But what is the straight forward definition of Literary canon? To quote the most defined meaning of this we refer this definition to a group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a certain field.

The literary canon is an anthology of works and writers who have a general seal of approval from scholastic and literary establishments. These are the personalities and works that make up the classification of being in Literature. Although it has been observed that the American literary canon has gender and racial issues which favour male writers over female, white authors over colored, white authors over authors from other countries, this has caused ambiguity and incredibility that such category has gathered disregard and dishonour with the society (AP, 2006).

Though Tim’Brien could very well fit some of the physical qualifications to be a member of the canon let us not forget that this physical attributes are just observation of the few who regards the title merely as superficial. Let us also examine if he could also in line with the literary canonist. We cannot quickly assume if someone can have a place in the canon or simply an artist who is popular but with superficial or irrelevant art unless proven otherwise with his works.

Here we have to confer O’Brien’s accomplishment on how he gathered the glory and enabled him to make such popular literary works. O’Brien finished his bachelor’s degree in political science as a summa cum laude from Macelester College in St. Paul in 1968. After his graduation and drafted into the army, he completed basic and advanced-infantry at Fort Lewis where he serve in Vietnam in 1969. With his battle in May Lai, Vietnam he received the Purple Heart medal of valor.

After his stint in Vietnam and few years of study in Harvard, he worked for the Washington Post as a reporter where he began his writing career. This is where he begins his colorful career as a writer of war in Vietnam. O’Brien’s writing gathered praises and awards and considered the greatest war stories of Vietnam ever made. Although some people’s concern that his works play within the boundaries of real and surreal, fiction and real-life experience, mostly readers especially scholars regard his works as a fascinations between true war story and fiction.

But all in all many believe that his works were learning stories that can save lives in the future. Sympathies of those who have known the war can attest that no one can write better than O’Brien because he was there all along, away from home, assaulted not only by enemies but by his homesickness for his family and adulthood. Yet he was there to fight not because he wants to but because he was asked to (Enotes. com, 2007). Over the past 30 y ears, O’Brien’s works has inspired many stories to be retold and understand the meaning of life in Vietnam.

His book If I Die in a Combat Zone, Going After Cacciato, The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods, and four other novels including the recent July, July were widely accepted and renowned. From these literary works he was known to be the most prominent American writer of war and one of the most important and controversial American writers of the past three decades. He now holds the Mitte Chair in Creative Writing at Southwest Texas State University (Shinseki, 2005).

Interviewed with what he believe in relation to the cultural, political, psychological and sociological aspects of Vietnam which he does not seem to relate to his work, he only entertain such queries except when it is only related with his great novel The Things They Carried. O’Brien is distinctively acknowledged as the best writer of his generation by the San Francisco Examiner which made a tribute to him on his exposure to the life of a soldier and the damaged committed in Vietnam. Reviewers’ distinction of his works has an interwoven connection to truth, memory and fiction which he can only do.

In The Things They Carried, people align O’Brien with Crane and Hemingway as Great War literatures writers. His elements of writing although as a mode of remunerating the atrocities of war has gave him the title as a writer of war because all his works were based mostly from true war events. He always stressed that he is not connecting his novels into the realm of politics and are not politically motivated. His only desire is to put emphasis on the effect of war and does not want his works to be considered war literature but rather stories of meta-fictional literature (Chattarji, 2005).

Tim O’Brien novels have already established him as a canon of the twentieth-century for American literature. Although his second novel was still in demand from readers who watches for his works, it has been out of print in the US due to its popularity. According to him he wanted to rewrite the novel and make it a better book. However, he was not keen on writing other books lately since his last book July, July has been released. He said it would take him more time to write better books (Lindbloom, 1999).

In conclusion, let us specifically review all his literary works to further emphasize why we must consider O’Brien to be a deserving literary artist and must belong to the American literary canon. Here are the list of his great books and their awards: • Going After Cacciato for the National Book Award in Fiction • The Things They Carried for the France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award • In the Lake of the Woods for the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and named Best Novel of the Year by Time magazine

For short fiction, what gathered honor was The Things They Carried for the National Magazine Award which was also included in The Best American Short Stories of the Century. His literary achievement awards from prominent institutions were from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was also an elected member for the Society of American Historians and American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Merricks, 2004).

If we will compare Tim O’Brien’s literary works and their significance to literary importance, indeed he has not be mediocre in his accomplishments though he has not been in excellence to surpass great authors – modern and the past. What his contributions was making his own literary works awaken the world and consciously what has become after the war and what would become for another war. He made us believe that our civilization has become too proud to deny war and too sensitive to accept defeat and yet we always wage for it.

O’Brien is one good of an author who made us realize that you can never train a man to fight and simply kill another person in war. It is only proper to show the world that what is dutifully right for others can be morally wrong to the world. Work Cited: AP. (2006). Some Common Literary Terms [Electronic Version]. Retrieved September 13, 2007 from http://www. apurnell. com/LitTerms. htm. Chattarji, S. (2005). Imagining Vietnam: Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried [Electronic Version]. Retrieved September 14, 2007 from http://www. lasalle. edu/library/vietnam/Text/Imagining_Vietnam_Tim_O_Brien_1. pdf. Enotes. com. (2007). O’Brien, Tim (Vol. 103) |


[Electronic Version]. Retrieved September 14, 2007 from http://www. enotes. com/contemporary-literary-criticism/o-brien-tim-vol-103. Lindbloom, J. (1999). The Heart Under Stress: Interview with author Tim O’Brien [Electronic Version]. Retrieved September 14, 2007 from http://chss. montclair. edu/english/furr/Vietnam/timobgadflyinterview0399. html. Merricks, A. (2004). About Tim O’Brien [Electronic Version] from http://www. illyria. com/tobbio. html#Awards. Shinseki, E. (2005). Thirty Years After: Tim O’Brien [Electronic Version]. Retrieved September 14, 2007 from http://www. english. hawaii. edu/events/festival2005. html.

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