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Abstract

This paper focuses on the works De Bello Civili by Lucan, Im Westen nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque and Generation Kill by Evan Wright, because these three authors utilize the senses—especially the sense of sight— as a way to depict the gore and horror of war. In De Bello Civili, an epic poem from the 1 st century AD about the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, Lucan uses the senses to create vivid scenes of the bloodshed of war for his audience. Lucan focuses on the sense of sight, while also giving special attention to eyes and eye injuries in battle, emphasizing their importance as the tool for seeing. Similarly, sight is used to describe gore in the World War I novel Im Westen nichts Neues and in the Iraq war book Generation Kill. Though the dates of composition of these works span many centuries, their use of the senses to describe the violence and bloodshed is remarkably similar. Though sight is the main sense used by all three authors, the other four senses also play crucial roles in the depiction of the wartime atmosphere. However, because of the differences in the time periods and the nature of the wars themselves, different senses are emphasized in each work. In the following sections I shall outline the ways in which each author employs sensory language. I will also attempt to explain the reasons for the similarities and differences among the three works. Lucan relies heavily on the sense of touch or feel to describe gore to his audience, while Remarque uses sound to recreate the experience of battle during World War I, and Wright emphasizes the odors present in Iraq during wartime. Taste is the sense least utilized by the three authors. In general, sensory language gives depth to each work and helps to convey the horrors of war.

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