Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Christmas Truce

Jünger, Ernst. Storm of Steel. 1920. Rev. ed. 1961. Trans. Michael Hofmann. Allen Lane. London: Penguin, 2003.
I recently bought a copy of Ernst Jünger's Storm of Steel [In Stahlgewittern] (1920), one of those great classic First World War memoirs I'd heard of but never read. The translator, poet Michael Hofmann, after making a number of cracks about the howlers in the only previous English translation (by Basil Creighton - in 1929), claims that "unlike any of the other World War I books I've read, Storm of Steel has found its way into natural epic form" (p.xviii).

He also discusses the book's immensely protracted genesis: how it evolved from the original, heavily diaristic version published in 1920, through the "Nationalist" text of 1924 (the one translated by Creighton), then the more toned-down, nuanced narrative of 1934 (the only one available to the Nazis, who revered Jünger, though he did not return the favour), until its final substantive rewriting for the first edition of his Collected Works in 1961.

Ernst Jünger: Storm of Steel (1920)

Hofmann sees this multiplicity of texts as a distinct advantage:
The inspiration of most of the English [war memoirs] is lyrical or dramatic; they work with one-off contrasts and ironies; they fear repetition or excess of detail. They begin as they mean to go on, with misfortunes and reverses: [Robert] Graves shelled by his own artillery; [Edmund] Blunden's grenade instructor blowing himself up with a bad grenade; [Siegfried] Sassoon breaking a leg while riding before he ever gets to France. There is something bleakly - bracingly - comic about all three. … Storm of Steel leaves all that behind.
Certainly Hofmann is correct when he says that "there is nothing comic about Jünger whatsoever." Let's take that famous episode of the "Christmas truce," for example. Perhaps the most famous description of this is in Robert Graves's short story "Christmas Truce" (first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1962, and subsequently included in his Collected Short Stories (1965): 99-115).

First, here's Jünger's account of Christmas 1915, from his chapter "Daily Life in the Trenches":
As Christmas approached, the weather seemed to worsen; we had recourse to pumps in our efforts to do something about the water. ["had recourse to" sounds like rather clumsy English to me: "were forced to use" would be my suggestion for something a bit more idiomatic. I wouldn't stress such a point if it weren't for the rather remorseless hatchet job Hofmann does (pp. xiv-xvi) on Creighton's earlier translation. His own seems to veer strangely between the wildly colloquial and the stiff and pedantic, but for all I know that's an accurate reflection of Jünger's prose style in German - Ed.] During this muddy phase, our losses also worsened …

We spent Christmas Eve in the line, and, standing in the mud, sang hymns, to which the British responded with machine-gun fire. On Christmas Day, we lost one man to a ricochet in the head. Immediately afterwards, the British attempted a friendly gesture by hauling a Christmas tree up on their traverse, but our angry troops quickly shot it down again, to which Tommy replied with rifle-grenades. it was all in all a less than merry Christmas. [pp. 58-59]

Robert Graves: Collected Short Stories (1965)

Graves, Robert. Collected Short Stories. 1965. Harmondsworth: Penguin, n.d.
Let's contrast this with Graves's version. Well, first of all, there's a frame-story. A couple of old soldiers are educating Stanley the "Polytechnic student", who's asked them to accompany him on a "Ban the Bomb" march. Impatient with their attitude, Stan bursts out:
"Oh, can it, Grandfather! ... You're a professional pessimist And you didn't hate the Germans even when you were fighting them - in spite of the newspapers. What about that Christmas Truce?" [p.101]
But the point, according to them, is not so much the "Christmas truce" itself, as its follow-up the year after:
"Tell this lad about the two Christmas truces," I said [to his mate Dodger Green, who's just dropped by], "He's trying to enlist us for a march to Moscow, or somewhere."
Stan's grandfather was wounded in hospital at the time, so he saw nothing of the complex festivities, football games, magic show, slap-up feed, which Dodger describes. Even then, in 1914, there were exceptions:
the Prussians weren't having any. Nor were some English regiments: such as the East Lancs on our right flank and the Sherwood Foresters on the left - when the Fritzes came out with white flags, they fired over their heads and waved 'em back. But they didn't interfere with our party. It was worse in the French line: them Frogs machine-gunned all the "Merry Christmas" parties … Of course, the French go in for New Year celebrations more than Christmas. [pp. 105-6]
When it came to Christmas 1915, however, Stan's grandfather takes up the tale:
"Keep in your trenches, Wessex!" [Colonel Pomeroy] shouted over his shoulder. And [Major Coburg] gave the same orders to his lot.

"After jabbering a bit they agreed that any bloke who'd attended the 1914 party would be allowed out of trenches, but none of the rest - they could only trust us regular soldiers. Regulars, you see, know the rules of war and don't worry their heads about politics nor propaganda; them Duration blokes sickened us sometimes with their patriotism and their lofty skiting, and their hatred of 'the Teuton foe' as one of 'em called the Fritzes." [p.112]
The party this time is a disaster. One of the British soldiers seizes the opportunity to take revenge for "a brother killed at Loos" [p.114]. Even though he only wounds rather than killing the German officer he shoots, the damage is done. The British colonel is court-martialled, and there is no further fraternising between the two sides. Stan's grandfather's conclusion is a pessimistic one:
"Now listen, lad: if two real old-fashioned gentlemen like Colonel Pomeroy and Major Coburg - never heard of him again, but I doubt if he survived, having the guts he had - if two real men like them two couldn't hope for a their Christmas Truce in the days when 'mankind', as you call 'em, was still a little bit civilised, tell me, what can you hope for now?" [p.115]
Dodger, however, has a less gloomy take on the whole affair: "… don't listen to your Grand-dad. Don't be talked out of your beliefs! He's one of the Old and Bold, but maybe he's no wiser nor you and I."

Hofmann's commendation of what he sees as the "Homeric" reticence of Jünger's version comes, in part, from its chronology:
As well as being one of the earliest books on World War I ["published long before the likes of Blunden, Graves, Remarque and Sassoon, all of which appeared in the later 1920s, at a classic ten-year distance from the events they describe, giving their public and themselves time to recover" (p.viii)], Storm of Steel is also one of the newest, and it seems likely that it gained in both respects. If one might put it like this, in addition to outflanking the competition by getting in ahead of them, Storm of Steel also outlasted them: the experience it offers the reader is both more immediate and more considered, more naively open-ended and more artistically complex, more Sartre-ish and more - what shall I say? - Paterian. [p.xiii]
Now it's certainly true that the contrast between Jünger's and Graves's version of Christmas 1915 does not come out heavily in favour of the latter. Graves's story is a bit neat, a bit magazine-ish, which is possibly why he did not include any of this material in his own "classic" war memoir, Good-bye to All That (1929 - also heavily revised in its 1957 edition, which rather makes nonsense of Hofmann's claims for the superior "consideration" Jünger was able to give his own book).

But one can't really have it all ways at once. Having read this encomium on Jünger's epic, it came as a bit of a shock to turn to the book itself. Even Hofmann grants that "Sometimes the progress seems slow and a little lumbering," combining all the various elements of the narrative into "one great narcotic experience." It is, not to put too fine a point on it, quite a boring book. At first, at any rate - certainly to readers used to the "one-off contrasts and ironies" of Graves, Sassoon and Blunden: their sheer story-telling ability, in other words.

This is not to say that I don't see Hofmann's point. There is a cumulative effect to Jünger's writing which is quite different to that of the great English and French memoirists and novelists of the war - different, too, from other German authors such as Erich Maria Remarque or Arnold Zweig. But "Sartre-ish and … Paterian"! Is he relying on the fact that no-one really reads Marius the Epicurean anymore, let alone Pater's less well-known works (with the possible exception of that one piece of prose poetry about the Mona Lisa which Yeats re-lineated and included in his Oxford Book of Modern Verse)? Hofmann himself admits:
I could never understand, unless it was for doctrinal political reasons, why Sartre, asked about Jünger, said merely: "I hate him." [p. xx]
Well, duh! Whatever the complexities of his relations with the Nazis, the fact that a good many of his problems with them stemmed from the fact that they weren't nationalistic enough (a bit like Heidegger, who saw Hitler and his mob of thugs as too "compromised by modernity" to preserve the purity of their Germanic ideals) might have something to do with explaining why so prominent an anti-fascist as Sartre might quite simply hate a silly old fool like Ernst Jünger.

Storm of Steel may or may not be a great book. It's certainly an interesting book - though frighteningly unreflective about the larger implications of the communal bloodletting Ernst and his comrades are indulging in (perhaps the "Homeric" quality Hofmann detects so readily in it comes more from the moral and ethical blindness displayed by the narrator than from any true approach to the unsentimental - though not, I would argue unfeeling - objectivity of the author of the Iliad).

I can't accept that it is any real rival to the great war memoirs of Blunden, Graves and Sassoon - or, for that matter, for the poetry of Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg or Edward Thomas. Their humanity and compassion continues to speak to us over the century that has elapsed since the first Christmas Truce (if such an event ever really took place, except symbolically). Jünger, for me, is more of a horrible warning - of what happens when you subtract those elements from a person, either through nature or nurture, but instead simply train him to kill and be killed.

It's possible, then, that Hofmann is right, and Jünger has more to say to us this Christmas, as the Ukraine burns and ISIL marches on the beleaguered ancient cities of Mesopotamia, about the true nature of humanity right here, right now. I don't agree with his implicit denigration of Robert Graves and the other "English memoirists" as at least equally valid commentators on the nature of war, though. What's more, when one considers that Graves published his first book of war poems in 1916, and his last stories on the subject of the war in the 1960s, Hofmann's arguments for Jünger's "outflanking the competition" begin to look a bit flimsy, also.

Robert Graves: A Dead Boche (1916)

Here's a list of some classic WWI books from my collection (I haven't bothered to include very much fiction in this list, though of course Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, Ford's Parade's End, and - more recently - Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy are all potentially relevant: not to mention well worth reading - or rereading, for that matter):
    Richard Aldington (1892–1962)

  1. Death of a Hero: A Novel. 1929. The Phoenix Library. London: Chatto and Windus, 1932.
  2. The Complete Poems. London: Allan Wingate (Publishers) Limited, 1948.

  3. Henri Barbusse (1873-1935)

  4. Under Fire: The Story of a Squad / Light. 1916 & 1919. Trans. Fitzwater Wray. London & Toronto: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1929.

  5. Edmund Blunden (1896-1974)

  6. Undertones of War. 1928. London: Penguin, 1937.
  7. The Poems: 1914-30. London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1930.

  8. Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)

  9. Marsh, Edward, ed. The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke: With a Memoir. 1918. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., 1920.
  10. 1914 and Other Poems. London: Faber, 1941.
  11. The Complete Poems. 1932. London: Sidgwick & Jackson Limited / Melbourne: Hicks, Smith & Wright, 1944.
  12. Keynes, Geoffrey, ed. The Poetical Works of Rupert Brooke. 1946. Faber Paper Covered Editions. London: Faber, 1974.

  13. Robert Graves (1895-1985)

  14. Over the Brazier. 1916. Poetry Reprint Series, 1. London: St. James Press / New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975.
  15. Lawrence and the Arabs. Illustrations ed. Eric Kennington. Maps by Herry Perry. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1927.
  16. Good-bye to All That: An Autobiography. 1929. London: Jonathan Cape, 1929.
  17. Good-bye to All That. 1929. Rev. ed. 1957. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973.
  18. Collected Short Stories. 1965. Harmondsworth: Penguin, n.d.
  19. In Broken Images: Selected Letters 1914-1946. Ed. Paul O'Prey. London: Hutchinson, 1982.
  20. Seymour-Smith, Martin. Robert Graves: His Life and Work. 1982. Abacus. London: Sphere Books Ltd., 1983.
  21. Graves, Richard Perceval. Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic, 1895-1926. London: George Weidenfeld and Nicolson Limited, 1986.
  22. Seymour, Miranda. Robert Graves: Life on the Edge. 1995. Doubleday. London: Transworld Publishers Ltd., 1996.

  23. Ivor Gurney (1890-1937)

  24. Collected Poems. Ed. P. J. Kavanagh. 1982. Manchester: Carcanet, 2004.

  25. Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923)

  26. The Good Soldier Schweik. Trans. Paul Selver. Illustrations by Josef Lada. 1930. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1952.
  27. The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the World War. Trans. Cecil Parrott. Illustrations by Josef Lada. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.
  28. The Red Commissar: Including Further Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk and Other Stories. Trans. Cecil Parrott. Illustrations by Josef Lada. 1981. London: Abacus, 1983.
  29. Parrott, Sir Cecil. The Bad Bohemian: A Life of Jaroslav Hašek, Creator of the Good Soldier Švejk. 1978. London: Abacus, 1983.

  30. David Jones (1895-1974)

  31. In Parenthesis: seinnyessit e gledyf ym penn mameu. 1937. London: Faber, 1963.
  32. Hague, René, ed. Dai Greatcoat: A Self-portrait of David Jones in his Letters. London: Faber, 1980.
  33. Matthias, John, ed. Introducing David Jones: A Selection of His Writings. Preface by Stephen Spender. London: Faber, 1980.
  34. Blissett, William. The Long Conversation: A Memoir of David Jones. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

  35. T. E. Lawrence (1888–1935)

  36. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. 1926. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1946.
  37. Revolt in the Desert. New York: Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1927.
  38. Garnett, David, ed. The Essential T. E. Lawrence. 1951. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1956.
  39. Garnett, David, ed. The Letters of T. E. Lawrence. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1938.
  40. Thomas, Lowell. With Lawrence in Arabia. London: Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers), Ltd., 1924.
  41. Liddell Hart, B. H. ‘T. E. Lawrence’: In Arabia and After. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1934.
  42. Lawrence, A. W., ed. T. E. Lawrence by His Friends. 1937. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1938.
  43. Aldington, Richard. Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry. London: Collins, 1955.
  44. Mack, John E. A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T. E. Lawrence. 1976. New Preface by the Author. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998.
  45. Wilson, Jeremy. Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorised Biography of T. E. Lawrence. 1989. Minerva. London: Mandarin Paperbacks, 1990.

  46. Francis Ledwidge (1887–1917)

  47. The Complete Poems. Introduction by Lord Dunsany. 1919. London: Herbert Jenkins Limited, 1955.

  48. C. S. Lewis [as 'Clive Hamilton'] (1898–1963)

  49. Spirits in Bondage (1919). In C. S. Lewis. Collected Poems. Ed. Walter Hooper. 1919, 1964. London: Fount Paperbacks, 1994.

  50. John Masefield (1878-1967)

  51. Gallipoli. 1916. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1935.
  52. The Old Front Line, or The Beginning of the Battle of the Somme. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1917.
  53. St. George and the Dragon. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1919.
  54. Collected Poems. 1923. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1926.
  55. Vansittart, Peter, ed. John Masefield’s Letters from the Front, 1915-1917. London: Constable and Company Limited, 1984.
  56. John Masefield’s Great War: Collected Works. Ed. Philip W. Errington. Pen & Sword Military Classics. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books Limited, 2007.

  57. R. H. Mottram (1883–1971)

  58. The Spanish Farm Trilogy, 1914-1918. 1924, 1925, 1926 & 1927. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.

  59. Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

  60. Day Lewis, C., ed. The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen. 1963. Memoir by Edmund Blunden. 1931. A Chatto & Windus Paperback CWP 18. London: Chatto & Windus Ltd., 1977.
  61. War Poems and Others. Ed. Dominic Hibberd. 1973. A Chatto & Windus Paperback CWP 46. London: Chatto & Windus Ltd., 1975.
  62. Stallworthy, Jon, ed. The Poems of Wilfred Owen. 1985. London: The Hogarth Press, 1988.
  63. Collected Letters. Ed. Harold Owen & John Bell. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.
  64. Welland, Dennis. Wilfred Owen: A Critical Study. Revised and Enlarged Edition. 1960. London: Chatto & Windus Ltd., 1978.

  65. Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970)

  66. All Quiet on the Western Front. 1929. Trans. A. W. Wheen. 1929. London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1930.

  67. Frank Richards [aka Francis Philip Woodruff] (1883-1961)

  68. Old Soldiers Never Die. 1933. Uckfield, East Sussex: The Naval & Military Press, Ltd., n.d. [c.2009].
  69. Old Soldier Sahib. Introduction by Robert Graves. 1936. Uckfield, East Sussex: The Naval & Military Press, Ltd., n.d. [c.2009].

  70. Jules Romains (1885-1972)

  71. Verdun. 1938. Trans. Gerard Hopkins. 1939. London: Peter Davies, 1940.

  72. Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)

  73. Parsons, Ian, ed. The Collected Works of Isaac Rosenberg: Poetry, Prose, Letters, Paintings and Drawings. Introduction by Siegfried Sassoon. London: Chatto & Windus, 1979.

  74. Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

  75. Collected Poems. London: Faber, 1947.
  76. Collected Poems 1908-1956. 1961. London: Faber, 1984.
  77. The War Poems. Ed. Rupert Hart-Davis. London: Faber, 1983.
  78. Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man. 1928. The Faber Library, 1. London: Faber, 1932.
  79. Memoirs of an Infantry Officer. 1930. The Faber Library, 2. London: Faber, 1932.
  80. Sherston’s Progress. 1936. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1948.
  81. The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston: Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man / Memoirs of an Infantry Officer / Sherston’s Progress. 1937. Published by the Reprint Society Ltd. by Arrangement with Faber and Faber. London: World Books, 1940.
  82. Siegfried’s Journey, 1916-1920. The Albatross Modern Continental Library, 558. London & Paris: The Albatross Ltd., 1947.
  83. Diaries 1915-1918. Ed. Rupert Hart-Davis. London: Book Club Associates, 1983.
  84. Diaries 1920-1922. Ed. Rupert Hart-Davis. London: Faber, 1981.
  85. Diaries 1923-1925. Ed. Rupert Hart-Davis. London: Faber, 1985.
  86. Wilson, Jean Moorcroft. Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet. A Biography 1886-1918. 1998. New York: Routledge, 1999.
  87. Wilson, Jean Moorcroft. Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches. A Biography 1918-1967. London: Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd., 2003.

  88. Charles Sorley (1895-1915)

  89. Marlborough and Other Poems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1916.

  90. Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

  91. Poems and Last Poems (Arranged in Chronological Order of Composition). Ed. Edna Longley. 1917 & 1918. Collins Annotated Student Texts. London & Glasgow: Collins Publishers, 1973.
  92. Collected Poems. Foreword by Walter de la Mare. 1920. London & Boston: Faber, 1979.
  93. The Collected Poems. Ed. R. George Thomas. 1978. Oxford Paperbacks. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.
  94. The Annotated Collected Poems. Ed. Edna Longley. 2008. Highgreen, Tarset, Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books Ltd., 2011.
  95. Thomas, Helen, with Myfanwy Thomas. Under Storm’s Wing: As It Was, World without End &c. 1926, 1931 & 1988. Paladin Grafton Books. London: Collins Publishing Group, 1990.
  96. Hollis, Matthew. Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas. 2011. London: Faber, 2012.

  97. J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

  98. Garth, John. Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth. 2003. London: HarperColllins, 2004.

  99. Arnold Zweig (1887-1968)

  100. The Case of Sergeant Grischa. 1927. Trans. Eric Sutton. 1928. London: Martin Secker, 1929.
  101. Education before Verdun. 1935. Trans. Eric Sutton. London: Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd., 1936.

  102. Escape

  103. Evans, A. J. The Escaping Club. 1921. Penguin 202: Travel and Adventure. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1939.
  104. Harrison, Major M. C. C., & Capt H. A. Cartwright. Within Four Walls: A Classic of Escape. 1930. Penguin 281: Travel and Adventure. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1940.
  105. Hervey, H. E. Cage-Birds. 1940. Penguin 287. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1942.
  106. Jones, E. H. The Road to En-Dor: Being an Account of How Two Prisoners of War at Yozgad in Turkey Won Their Way to Freedom. 1929. The Week-End Library. London: John Lane / The Bodley Head, 1930.

  107. Historical

  108. Allison, William, & John Fairley. The Monocled Mutineer. 1978. London: Quartet Books Limited, 1986.
  109. Churchill, Winston S. The World Crisis: 1911-1918. 1923, 1927. Rev. ed. 1931. A Four Square Book. London: Landsborough Publications Limited, 1960.
  110. Clark, Alan. Aces High: The War in the Air over the Western Front 1914-18. 1973. London: Fontana / Collins, 1974.
  111. Lewis, Cecil. Sagittarius Rising. 1936. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977.
  112. Liddell-Hart, Basil H. History of The First World War. 1930. Rev. ed. 1934. London: Pan Books, 1972.
  113. Middlebrook, Martin. The First Day on the Somme: 1 July 1916. 1971. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984.
  114. Middlebrook, Martin. The Kaiser’s Battle. 21 March 1918: The First Day of the German Spring Offensive. 1978. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983.
  115. Taylor, A. J. P. The First World War: An Illustrated History. 1963. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966.
  116. Toland, John. No Man’s Land: The Story of 1918. 1980. Methuen Paperbacks. London: Eyre Methuen Ltd., 1982.
  117. Tuchman, Barbara W. The Zimmermann Telegram. 1958. London: Constable, 1959.
  118. Tuchman, Barbara W. The Guns of August. 1962. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1963.
  119. Tuchman, Barbara W. The Proud Tower. A Portrait of the World Before the War: 1890-1914. 1966. New York: Bantam Books, 1971.
  120. Wolff, Ian. In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign. 1958. London: Pan Books, 1961.

  121. Miscellaneous

  122. Bergonzi, Bernard. Heroes’ Twilight: A Study of the Literature of the Great War. London: Constable and Compnay Ltd., 1965.
  123. Cross, Tim, ed. The Lost Voices of World War I: An International Anthology of Writers, Poets & Playwrights. 1988. London: Bloomsbury
  124. Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. 1975. Oxford Paperbacks, 385. London: Oxford University Press, 1977.
  125. Fussell, Paul, ed. The Bloody Game: An Anthology of Modern War. A Scribners Book. London: Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd., 1991.
  126. Hayward, James. Myths and Legends of the First World War. 2002. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2010.
  127. Hynes, Samuel. A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture. 1990. London: Pimlico, 1992.
  128. Hynes, Samuel. The Soldier's Tale: Bearing Witness to Modern War. 1997. Pimlico. London: Random House, 1998.
  129. Korte, Barbara, with Ann-Marie Einhaus, ed. The Penguin Book of First World War Stories. Penguin Classics. London: Penguin, 2007.
  130. Macdonald, Lyn. 1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War. 1988. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991.
  131. Nichols, Robert, ed. Anthology of War Poetry 1914-1918. London: Nicholson & Watson, 1943.
  132. Ricketts, Harry. Strange Meetings: The Lives of the Poets of the Great War. 2010. Pimlico 860. London: Random House, 2012.
  133. Silkin, Jon, ed. The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry. 1979. Penguin Modern Classics. London: Penguin, 1981.
  134. Stallworthy, Jon, ed. The Oxford Book of War Poetry. 1984. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  135. Stallworthy, Jon. Anthem for Doomed Youth: Twelve Soldier Poets of the First World War. 2002. London: Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2003.
  136. Winter, Denis. Death’s Men: Soldiers of the Great War. 1978. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985.


Richard said...

Interesting. I had never heard of Junger. Wikipedia says he became to be: "...regarded as a towering figure of German literature."

A strange customer for sure.

Did the Xmas day meetings ever take place?

Near the end of the war I think those in power feared that revolution would start with the soldiers and spread.

'In Parenthesis' is a great book / poem. David Jones is still relatively under-appreciated.

But I'm not big on reading about wars these days. I started Grave's book but left off. Leicester recommended it to me once.

'The Regeneration Trilogy' I very much endorse. Great series.

I saw the movie 'All Quiet on the Western Front'.

Malouf has a book set in WWI. Very good, and moving in parts.

Homeric. The Iliad is a long pitiless and unreasoning litany of war and blood letting! The Odyssey was Joyce's preferred book. He was not big on war.

Have you ever seen this book by Lawerence:

'The Mint' by T. E. Lawrence. It says on the title page: 'A day-book about the R.A.F. Depot between August and December 1922 with later notes by 352087 A/c Ross' Lawrence joined the RAF and went through a kind of hell (I think) but the blurbers are very impressed by it. I discovered it sorting out things I had here either for sale or collection / collation. It joined Lawrence's other famous book on the shelf. I thought it might be something like Camus's 'The Outsider' Something beautifully cold.

But for T. E. Lawrence I have to rely on the movie.

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

Yes, I have read The Mint -- it used to be regarded as a restricted book for some reason, though I could never quite work out why.

The whole thing is a bit sad, as he had to leave the RAF shortly afterwards due to excessive newspaper publicity, and had to join the army (Royal Tank Corps) instead.

Looking back over this list, I see I haven't included any NZ (or Australian) books -- mainly because that's a whole subject in itself, though.

Richard said...

When I was younger I loved war documentaries and things about the (mainly WW2) War. But one day I borrowed a lib. book about the Jewish and partisan resistance (only a few years ago) and there was a lot of terrible stuff ( a young Jewish girl chased and shot by fascist partisans, many of whom, while they fought the Germans as patriots and even as Communists, hated Jews as much as the Nazis): in any case now if I hear anything or see anything about war or killing I switch the radio off or skip it if I can, as the result of starting to read that book was a terrible nightmare of being chased by men with guns. Those kinds of nightmares lasted for months. I started on Graves book about the war, but stopped for similar reasons.

For me, perhaps the greatest book about war (and one of the great books of the 20th Century) is Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs. Dalloway' where the madness of the shell shocked Septimus Warren Smith.

I know Woolf learned from Joyce but I prefer her novels overall. They, like those of William Golding, and even our own Robin Hyde (of say 'Wednesday's Children'), seem more concentrated, more intense. Perhaps like the 'Three Tales' of Flaubert (which Joyce, who was shown a French copy, critiqued for some "weaknesses" at the start and the end of that book!) some of their writing is nearly perfect.

But this "fine madness" is, for a fellow bibliomaniac (but perhaps on a lesser scale!) is wonderful to read.

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

I know what you mean. I've recently been reading a book about the Spanish Civil War, and the sickening, ruthless, relentless quality of the violence in that war certainly puts one off knowing too much about it.

It's certainly not a "respectable" study -- and one has to feel a bit suspicious of those who are too fascinated by it -- but I guess that's part of my point about Graves and Sassoon and the others as against Ernst Junger: they seem to me to celebrate life primarily, whereas his great appeal to the Nazis seems to have come from his complete lack of interest in anything but violence and death.

Richard said...

I have a book on the Spanish Civil war. I read Orwell's 'Homage...' I haven't got to read the Spanish Civil War book (but I do want to read more history so I have some books on such subjects [histories of Europe etc and NZ and other places]. Also I read Joanna Burke's book about war and how it seems to (universally) affect people in paradoxical ways. There are many, far more than one would think, not just the "bad guys" but she studied several wars and even NZ and Australian soldiers were involved in killing unarmed prisoners, and atrocities. The guy who initiated the My Lai massacre was actually let out of jail pretty quickly as many in the US thought he was just doing his duty. And the US army and airforce etc engaged in massacres against civilians almost as much as the Nazis. And many (otherwise "good" men) reported a strange elation and excitment seeing people burn when on fire from napalm. Contradictorily there were those who it seemed hardly fired a shot at the enemy. Some just kept firing over people's heads. Another book about war by a psychologist and neurologist concluded: well it reached no conclusions as in the end he could not work out why humans went to war (apart from generalisations about struggle for power, which of course does apply) but the deep reason why, or even if it is possible to say that the Nazis, for example were actually "bad" is not conclusive. I think we are merely processes. We are all potentially capable of anything.

In some ways Junger is more honest than many! It seems he even told the Nazis to go jump, they weren't hash enough for him. I think our reasons (deep) for liking Graves etc are the "social-genetic" aspect of what we are.

I used to sell books at a market on Saturdays, and I made quite a bit from a bloke who loved war (even though he had been shot in the guts himself and was suffering "shell shock", he had been shot, not in war, but caught with another man's wife. The man was a military chap. I used to discuss this with him and he was studying sociology and history. For him war was necessary. He thought humans need war.

Food for thought! 'We are strange beating things.' (R. Taylor, in case you were going to steal it!)

Richard said...

But that "Regeneration" series is certainly worth reading. Pat Barker deserved the accolades. Sassoon, Wilfred Owen make appearances. Possibly Russell? It's strange that Russell was a conscientious objector, protested up to the 70s against war (the Vietnam War) and militarism: whereas his co-worker and acquaintance Wittgenstein went off to fight against England etc! And of course his brother Paul, the pianist, had an arm or hand destroyed, and Ravel etc kept all writing piano concertos for one hand!

There are also Rosenberg, David Jones .

I read Martin Amis's 'Time's Arrow' which is very clever, from the point of view of a Nazi but it goes backward in time!