Category Archives: novels

A Galsworthy typo?

In my paper for the British Poetry of the First World War conference at Oxford at the end of this week, I’m discussing how war poets were represented in novels of the twenties. A key exhibit is Wilfrid Desert,  the Byronic and disillusioned (‘Bitter as quinine’) poet of Galsworthy’s The White Monkey. Galsworthy gives us […]

Researching Allan M. Laing at Bradford

Yesterday I spent a very productive afternoon in the Special Collections Room of the J.B. Priestley Library at the University of Bradford. One of my interests is the career of Allan M. Laing, the conscientious objector who wrote Carols of a Convict while banged up in Wormwood Scrubs, and later became a prolific writer of […]

‘Poetic expression alone…’

‘The poetic mood, whether in writer or reader, demands a high, a heightened state of tension and sensibility; by the emotions of the War, that high, that heightened state was created, not only in the soldier, but in every citizen, anxious, exalted, fearful both for the fate of his country and his fellow-men. The soldier […]

Kamila Shamsie’s ‘A God in Every Stone’

With very few exceptions, the best novels of the Great War are the ones that not only give an idea of the battlefield, but also locate the conflict within a historical frame, and give a sense of the War as a turning point in the lives of individuals and societies. Kamila Shamsie’s A God in […]

W. H. R. Rivers and Arnold Bennett

The Times Litt. Sup. has been discussing the psychologist W. H. R. Rivers recently (based on Ben Shephard’s interesting-looking book, Headhunters) so I sent them this letter, which appears in the current issue: Sir, – Ashok Bery (Letters, August 1) notes how the writings of W. H. R. Rivers influenced the imagination of W. H. […]

Roy Greenslade versus Great War journalism

In the Guardian today, Roy Greenslade marks the centenary by considering the 1914-18 press’s reporting of the First World War, which he considers deplorable: The catalogue of journalistic misdeeds is a matter of record: the willingness to publish propaganda as fact, the apparently tame acceptance of censorship and the failure to hold power to account. […]

The Folio Fussell

There are not many works of literary criticism in the Folio Society’s backlist. Most of the books that are given the sumptuous Folio treatment are classics of fiction, biography and travel writing – the sort of thing that a bookish person of means might want to decorate his or her shelves iwith in preference to […]

Ethel Mannin on Arnold Bennett

In Ethel Mannin’s Confessions and Impressions (1930), there’s this anecdote about Bennett: I love the story about Arnold Bennett and the young man who so much wanted to meet him. A mutual friend introduced them during a chance encounter in the street. At the spot at which they stood, a carter was carrying a heavy […]

The Folio ‘Parade’s End’

The Folio Society are marking the centenary of the Great War with a reprint of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End tetralogy, in two volumes. They have kindly sent copies to me to review on this site. The books are very handsome indeed, as one might expect from the Folio Society. The paper is good, the […]

Some new websites

Today is Sarajevo day, and therefore as good as any (and better than most) for mentioning A Century Back a new blog that intends day by day to record what happened exactly a century ago. So today, obviously, the author writes about the assassination, and quotes Stefan Zweig’s memory of a sudden silence: And so […]

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