Two literary newsletters have arrived in the post. Each contains some of my writing, but that’s not the main reason for looking at them.
The Arnold Bennett Society newsletter is full of interesting bits and pieces, but the main reason for looking it out should be a piece called ‘There’s no such place as Wrikton’ by Alan Pedley. This starts off by considering the claim of Ludlow to be the ‘Wrikton’ of Bennett’s The Pretty Lady, goes on to say something about Bennett’s topographical imagination (‘The one thing I can’t do: write about places I haven’t seen,’ he once wrote.) and finishes with a consideration of the contrast between fantasy and reality in that most fascinating (to me) of Bennett’s novels. Well worth reading.
Siegfried’s Journal is the newsletter of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship, and it too has plenty of interest. In this case the piece that interested me most was an article (or half of an article – it will be concluded in the next issue) by Jess Owen, about Sassoon’s protest against the War. This has interesting things to say in the initial lack of interest shown by the left-wing press in the protest, and the gradual adoption of him as a symbol of conscientious objection (which Sassoon was not altogether comfortable with. The article quotes a poem by Edward Carpenter, ‘Lieutenant Tattoon’:
And nobody knew whatever on earth
Our present objective and aim were,
And whether the loss and deadly dearth
Of another million lives was worth
Some gains in Mesopotamia.
‘Twas insubordination, they said,
And he surely must be crazy…
Yet there he stood, in mien well-bred,
Collected and calm, with clean-cut head,
And looking as fit as a daisy.
And an M.C. too… so what could they do?
I like that poem, especially the rhyme for Mesopotamia.