The Wars (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – Jun 28 2005
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Timothy Findley's slim, dense novel The Wars offers nothing short of an explanation of human violence. However alien or mad Findley's World War I events become, war itself is repeatedly depicted as damnably quotidian. A front-line nurse confesses, "the passions involved were as ordinary as me and my sister fighting over who's going to cook the dinner. And who won't." Bringing Dostoyevsky's moral palette to the trenches of the Great War, The Wars seems compelled to reveal how the same men who save one another's lives will also torture trench rats or stray cats for sport.
Written in surgically precise prose and studded with unforgettable scenes and memorable characters, The Wars is Findley at his best. In Cambridgeshire are "towns with names like Camden Lights and Grantchester--roads that wind past canals and over bridges--whirl you round a hundred village greens, scattering geese and waving at children--whip you past the naked swimmers in the ponds and deposit you at inn yards where the smell of ale and apples makes you drunk before you've passed the gate." Informed, compassionate, and insightful, The Wars is uniquely sensitive to the causes of social division and union. --Darryl Whetter --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
'The ferocious truth of a work of art.' The New Yorker 'The Wars is quite simply one of the best novels of the Great War. A magnificent book.' Province Vancouver --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Anger comes from confusion so it is no surprise to see many angry people reacting to ?The Wars?. It is a difficult read. Robert Ross is a difficult character to identify with because Findley holds him at arm?s length for almost the entire novel. The only instances I remember where the reader is given direct access to Robert?s innermost thoughts are in the opening section, before he enlists in the army. From there we are shown his actions and only the most obvious of thoughts. Much of the novel is presented as hearsay, where the reader sees the toll the war takes on both his family and personal life, and this is perhaps the reason for the negative reviews here: the reader cannot become attached to Robert Ross. Findley does not present empathy as an option. We are forced to examine his actions coolly with little emotion involved save the horror of killing or the pleasure of love. What does this say about Findley?s goal with this novel? Why does he not allow us to be close to Robert Ross? Because he is not a hero. He is not a great man. He was the average soldier (or officer, in this case) and his trials were average for the Great War.
This is a novel about World War One written sixty years (or so) after the armistice, and we are now approaching its one hundred year anniversary.Read more ›
The book revolves around the son of a prominent Toronto businessman named Robert Ross who enlists as an officer in the Canadian Artillery in 1915. The book starts off right before Robert enlists, focusing not only on Robert but also his mother and, later, the soldiers he meets and befriends. The novel is part mystery: at the outset we find out that Leftenant Robert did something really bad in Belgium, in a small wood near Ypres. We’re not sure at all what it is he did, but we know Robert died and that his death is related to this infamous incident.
The narrative voice flits between third person perspectives and the second person perspective of an archivist researching Robert Ross (“You look at a photo of Robert riding a stallion. On the back of the grainy photo is the year, 1913″). The archivist interviews various people who knew Robert before and during the war. It’s a creative way of writing. Throughout the novel, the author breaks through the “fourth wall” and talks directly to the reader. When a secondary character, Robert’s friend, is killed on the front line, the author reminds you that “632,234 souls preceded him”. The war scenes are legitimately scary without being too violent. We barely meet any Germans, but the author makes war terrifying nonetheless.
The characters in the story itself are kind of weak.Read more ›
Yes, the characters are not normal--but they start off that way. It is the war that tears apart their family, turns them into killers, forces them to commit acts of depravity. Yes, Ross is a very complex character--but not to begin with. He begins as a simple, if not naive young adult in Canada and ends a mad, misunderstood soldier in Europe. Yes, Findley changes the narrative every 20 pages or so and yes, it can be confusing. But the book is about finding the humanity in the inhumanity of war by taking a look at a fictional but personal case. Findley's aim is not neatly tying up loose ends and making everything "fit" but unravelling tied ends and showing that nothing "fits."
If you enjoy happy endings that give easy answers and generic lessons, read another book. Findley's work is complicated, disturbing, and heavy and I for one enjoyed it. It's a book I still think about years after reading it and would recommend not "burning it to the ground" as some other critics have suggested, but leaving it until one is mature enough to comprehend its brevity.
Most recent customer reviews
I got this book for my English class and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. I read it twice, it was a great book.Published 11 months ago by LSHuff
I'm commenting only on the physical quality of this edition of the novel (Penguin Modern Classics, 2014). Read morePublished 14 months ago by Sylvia Blessin
It was written in, marked up, and slightly ripped. A bit disappointed in the quality.Published 16 months ago by Fred Entz
The book was okay. Needed it for a class and it came in good condition.Published 19 months ago by Kaylee Verkruisen
This novel speaks volumes in symbolism and will always be close to my heart. Through all the hard and the few good this book will make your heart sing and cry.Published 21 months ago by Gracelynn
I loved Timothy Findley's book. It's just so gorgeous in every way. The style, the concept of making the reader an historiographer, the fragmented narrative--all of this makes 'The... Read morePublished on Dec 3 2012 by AP
It's been 18 years since I read this book and I remember it clearly. The writing is THAT good. Just now, as I write this review, I'm thumbing through it and I can vividly recall... Read morePublished on Dec 30 2011 by David Sabine
I read this many years ago, but Findlay's vision of the war remains in my memory as vivid and telling. Read morePublished on Dec 2 2010 by V Woolf
First off I would like to say that I have one specific type of book in my library....WW1 and WW11 Military history. I read both fictional and non fictional accounts.... Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2009 by Furyman