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Naked and the Dead, The

a novel by Norman Mailer, published in 1948. It is a realistic and naturalistic pseudo-historical narrative about the lives of some soldiers who survive the battle for the Japanese-held island, Anopopei, in the Pacific during the Second World War. General Cummings leads the invasion to attack the garrison of General Tayaku, a battle which takes on symbolic significance in the eyes of the American soldiers. However, through the series of portraits, it becomes evident that the battles with most at stake are principally those within the self: in the locking of wills between Red Vaslen and Sergeant Croft; in Goldstein's defence of his Jewish integrity against the rest of the platoon's antisemitism; in the psychic struggle of mind and personality between the proto-fascist General Cummings and his liberal Lieutenant Hearn; between Hearn and Croft for the effective leadership of the platoon while climbing Mount Anaka, the geographical and symbolic centre of Anopopei. The soldiers are represented as deprived and twisted by the disintegrative and totalitarian forces and counterforces of the world, the forces which caused the war they are fighting. Whilst it is a war novel, Mailer has described it as expressive of ‘death and man's creative urge—all kinds of things you never dream of separating and stating so baldly’.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mr Polly to New France