Category Archives: novels

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 […]

‘Comrades in Conscience’

I read Cyril Pearce’s Comrades in Conscience soon after its publication back in 2001. This was one of the first books to make me understand that there were interesting and complex stories to be told about the Home Front during the War. Did I lend my copy to someone? Well, it disappeared anyway. I thought […]

‘Non-Combatants and Others’

Yesterday evening’s rather good Radio 3 talk on Rose Macaulay’s 1916 novel Non-Combatants and Others is available online at It is by Sarah Le Fanu, Macaulay’s biographer, and gives a clear picture of the novel, which I seriously recommend to anyone interested in fiction of the War. A subject that Ms le Fanu didn’t […]

Eliot, Joyce, Gogarty, Jesus

It’s a while since I last read the ‘Nighttown’ episode of Ulysses, but it’s where I opened the book when I took it off  the shelf  this evening, and I kept on reading.  Suddenly I came on something oddly familiar from a different context. It’s at the point in the fantasy when Edward the Seventh […]

Arnold Zweig: Outside Verdun

Freight Books is a newish publishing firm, based in Glasgow. They have kindly sent me a copy of Outside Verdun, a new translation of a novel written in the early thirties by Arnold Zweig (no relation to Stefan). In Germany at that time, Hitler’s rise to power was helped by the myth of the German […]

A. D. Gristwood

Today I’ve been reading A. D. Gristwood’s novella ‘The Coward’ (published in 1927 as the second half of the volume The Somme). It’s well-told and I wondered whether I could find out more about Gristwood. A few minutes searching on has indicated this: He was born Arthur Donald Gristwood in 1893 in Catford. His […]

What happened to class war?

Back in the seventies and eighties, fictions protesting the horrors and injustices of the great War (think Days of Hope or The Monocled Mutineer) had a simple left-wing agenda. Uncaring upper-class officers victimised the working-class rank and file. Bullying N.C.O.s were there too, but as the lackeys of the bourgeois hegemony. How different from The […]


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