My reader’s innocent question about whether there was a pro-war novel of obviously high literary quality written since 1700 produced lots of interesting (to me, at least) definitional discussion and a wealth of interpretative material, but no unambiguous counterexample (i.e., a well known document that a literature professor wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen reading, not fantasy or SF, not “historical” as in the Aubrey/Maturin series, not pure genre fiction of the Tom Clancy variety).
Until now, that is. Two readers finally had the blinding flash of the obvious we had all been missing: For Whom the Bell Tolls. (One of them also mentioned Islands in the Stream.) You don’t have to like Hemingway’s prose, but it’s hard to deny For Whom the Bell Tolls canonical status. And it’s undeniably as “pro-war” in tone as Homer is: not a polemic in favor of warfare in the abstract, but a presentation of the acts of war as worthy of critical appreciation.