Undertones of War Paperback – Nov 1 2007
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This is an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of both the poet and the war he so miraculously survived, to say nothing of our understanding of the poetry it produced. N.S. Thompson, Times Literary Supplement John Greening's edition will stand as the authoritative one for many years to come. The editorial work in this new edition from Oxford University Press is outstanding ... The whole book, containing photographs and drawings presented within the text, is a delight to hold and compelling to read. Ian Brinton, WarPoets.org.uk Almost certainly the most comprehensive treatment that Undertones has received ... Greening has tackled Undertones and its related texts with great thoroughness, and his book re-establishes beyond doubt the position of Blunden as a major war writer and Undertones of War as a major war book. Michael Copp, New Canterbury Literary Society News --This text refers to the Hardcover 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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