Thursday, November 17, 2005
He was not anxious to go
It is good to have time - to revisit old friends for example: Undertones of War came for some reason to my mind today (probably due to lots of work trivia being currently cleared out of it). A treasure of a book. And that reminded me of the one that got me reading Blunden and Sassoon, Owen, Graves and that personal idol of mine, Charles Sorley: Fussel's Great War and Modern Memory. I believe it is quite out of fashion in the shouting match that goes for academia nowadays. But it was sheer magic to read in the first year that I spent in Helsinki having started my studies, a modern classic. He gets Blunden right, Undertones is a long poem of a book, beautiful, intense, intensely controlled, haunting. Blunden never really got to the same heights ever again, and one wonders whether the innocence was completely real in the first place. But it certainly was the most innocent generation our civilization has so far produced. A very tiny minority experience of course, but one that encapsulates much of the modern Western liberal history, the Western liberal hopes and their bitter, horrendous collapse. Otherwise known as the early and middle 20th Century. We might not have saved the best from the ruins.