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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 22 March 1924Pasadena, California, USA
Date of Death 23 May 2012Medford, Oregon, USA
Birth NameJr. Paul Fussell

Mini Bio (1)

Paul Fussell was born on March 22, 1924 in Pasadena, California, USA as Jr. Paul Fussell. He is known for his work on The War (2007), Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (2007) and Normandy: The Great Crusade (1994). He was married to Harriette Behringer and Betty Harper. He died on May 23, 2012 in Medford, Oregon, USA.

Spouse (2)

Harriette Behringer (1987 - 23 May 2012) (his death)
Betty Harper (1949 - 1987) (divorced)

Trivia (1)

"Fussell" is pronounced in the same way as "muscle".

Personal Quotes (17)

I was sprayed with the contents of a soldier's torso when I was lying behind him ... out of the holes in the back of his field jacket flew little clouds of tissue, blood and powdered cloth. Near him, another man raised himself to fire, but the machine-gun caught him in the mouth, and as he fell he looked back at me with surprise, blood and teeth dribbling out onto the leaves.
My main rule is, Thou shalt not be boring.
I am entirely serious when I assert that if I have ever developed into a passable literary scholar, editor, and critic, the credit belongs to the United States Army.
As I say in this new book of mine ["Doing Battle," published 1996], not merely did I learn to kill but I learned to enjoy the prospect of killing. You learn that you have much wider dimensions than you had imagined before you had to fight a war. That's salutary. It's well to know exactly who you are, so you can conduct the rest of your life properly.
Every war is ironic, because every war is worse than expected. Every war constitutes an irony of situation, because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its ends. Eight million people were destroyed [in World War I] because two persons, the archduke Francis Ferdinand and his consort, had been shot.
From the 1950s on, my presiding emotion [for academia, especially Harvard] was annoyance, often intensifying to virtually disabling anger.
Dismal food is bad. Dismal food pretentiously served in a restaurant associated with the word 'gourmet' is BAD. Being alert to this distinction is a large part of the fun of being alive today, in a moment teeming with raucously overvalued emptiness and trash.
Not smoking at all is very upper-class, but in any way calling attention to one's abstinence drops one to middle-class immediately.
[I was] always drawn in the direction of England because it didn't laugh at its own jokes - you could say something extremely comic with a totally straight face. Unlike America where innocence is treasured, in England it was a good thing to know things. Especially if you were a university professor, you were supposed to know much more than your subject.
American literature [in post-war academia] was taught as a collection of sincerities which was quite wrong - Thoreau was thought to be a very great man, I regarded him as just a bum like the kids of the 1960s.
I was always a very critical youngster. Flaubert describes spending his spare time as a child secretly listening behind the door at his mother's parties. He is appalled at the stupid things that get said. I had the same experience constantly. Where I was brought up [Pasadena, California] it was an extremely genteel society, and even before the war I was beginning not to be genteel at all... Obviously I couldn't live there.
[on defending the 1945 use of the Atomic Bombs against Princeton professor Michael Walzer's 2004 critical book, "Arguing About War (2004)]:"It's a common argument in politics - people who claim to be the tough-minded practitioners who get their hands dirty and know what it's like are opposed by intellectuals with their heads a little too high in the air. Those of us who join the argument from the other side have to deal as best we can with those claims."

[Walzer was only ten years old in 1945.]
I'm very American in [my] way. This is a country of dissent. When people start unifying, and agreeing on the same thing, we're in deep trouble.
[American] Conservatives know that I cannot be trusted... I hate them in general, I grew up in that atmosphere, my father was a corporate lawyer and always voted Republican - that's one reason I decided not to. It's a standard boy's reaction. If your father's a dentist you either become a dentist or you ridicule dentists for the rest of your life.
There's not much language associated with [American football] and there are no authors, like the intelligent authors who glorified baseball in the 1920s. That's one reason I've hated baseball, because it's phony. Whereas football seems to me very honest - I mean you hate each other so you tackle hard.
It strikes me as almost cruel, to write about the last seconds of the lives of young people who are scared to death, as if war were a matter of battalions and staff organisations and so on. It's unimaginative, hopeless - it doesn't do any good.
If you don't get angry about this war [the 2003 Invasion of Iraq] you don't deserve to be alive.

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