Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War

By Paul Fussell | Go to book overview

a suddenly familiar world which everyone had lost."45 And while Osbert was doing this, his sister Edith was conducting her own poetic war against "utility" and drabness with her portentous imagery of ores and porphyry, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies, amethysts, amber, myrrh, and viridian, and pre-eminently gold, all set in an archaic, non-utilitarian word-order ("Huge is the sun of amethysts and rubies"). Her poems are repositories of the "rich words," as Ronald Blythe observes, "which contrasted so vividly with the war's special poverty."46 And Edith's onetime protégé Dylan Thomas, who, we are told, "regarded the war as a personal affront,"47 developed his similar wartime line in abundance and extravagance. His surprising diction and strenuous lyricism are his counterweights to khaki, and the violent compassion of his poems is one of his responses to the obligatory wartime hate of the enemy that so depressed him. " Europe is hideously obvious and shameless," he wrote Vernon Watkins in the summer of 1940. "Am I to rejoice when a 100 men are killed in the air?"48 And the stylistic lushness of Waugh and the Sitwells and Thomas was gratifying enough to deprived audiences to persist as a notable postwar style, from Christopher Fry A Phoenix Too Frequent ( 1946) all the way to the late 1950s, with Lawrence Durrell Alexandria Quartet.


16
Reading in Wartime

Until Sitwell Left Hand, Right Hand! was available--1944 in the United States, 1945 in Britain--readers seeking literary relief from war- time had to utilize other reading matter. Horizon, of course, was a ready remedy, but intelligence, on the one hand, and peace and quiet, on the other, were to be found in the novels of Henry James and Anthony Trollope. It might not be going too far to suggest that the current vogue of

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Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books by Paul Fussell *
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • 1: From Light to Heavy Duty 3
  • 2: "Precision Bombing Will Win the War" 13
  • 3: Someone Had Blundered 19
  • 4 - Rumors of Wa 35
  • 5 - School of the Soldier 52
  • 6 - Unread Books on a Shelf 66
  • 7 - Chickenshit, an Anatomy 79
  • 8 - Drinking Far Too Much, Copulating Too Little 96
  • 9 - Type-Casting 115
  • 10: The Ideological Vacuum 129
  • 11: Accentuate the Positive 143
  • 12: High-mindedness 164
  • 13: With One Voice 180
  • 14 - Deprivation 195
  • 15 - Compensation 207
  • 16 - Reading in Wartime 228
  • 17 - Fresh Idiom 251
  • 18: The Real War Will Never Get in the Books" 267
  • Notes 299
  • Index 321
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