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Undertones of War Paperback – Sep 15 2007
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An established classic ... accurate and detailed in observation of the war scene and its human figures -- D. J. Enright --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Undertones of War is, with those by Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves, one of the best English memoirs of the First World War (John Lucy's 'There's A Devil in the Drum' is by far the best British memoir, and perhaps the best of all time). Blunden is, however, more subtle than they. An intellectual and poet, he portrays himself as a "pastoralist at war," and pays especial regard to the sacrilegious impact of war on the countryside--and life. And while his style may not provide the in-your-face appeal so dear to many American readers, it rewards the careful reader with an elegant, insightful view of the meaning of war.
Yet it can also be brutally honest. Who can forget the eyeball on the duckboard?
Read it while listening to Ralph Vaughan Williams' 'Pastoral Symphony' #3, which was composed behind the front lines of WWI. It goes with the book.
I have read hundreds of World War I memoirs. This book remains in my top five. Take your time reading it. Ponder it. You won't be disappointed.
During World War I, Blunden served as an officer in the Royal Sussex regiment. He fought through the war to its end, serving in the battles of both Ypres and the Somme.
Undertones of War is the memoir which he wrote about that period.
Delicately written and insistent, Undertones of War focuses on both the nostalgia for the countryside left behind and on the deep sorrow of trench warfare. It is a lovely and haunting little memoir. The Penguin edition is bound with a selection of Blunden's poetry. This works well for the overall effect of the book.
Recommended, particularly for those with an interest in World War I or military memoirs.
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