HEROES' TWILIGHT by Bernard Bergonzi


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The best thing that can be said about this lushly titled book is that it is short in length but wide in scope. Professor Bergonzi is also quite prudent in his observations, well read in his subject, and he picks out some acutely representative passages from the novelists and poets he discusses. Thus anyone looking for a rounded coverage of English literature of the First World War will find a reliable account here. The fact remains, however, that in recent years other and better books on the same subject have appeared, thereby lessening both Bergonzi's value and impact. Bergonzi's opening chapter sketches in the martial theme from Shakespeare to Catch 22, showing how have the mighty fallen. This is followed by another set-piece: the Edwardian age, the decline of liberalism, and ""rightist"" dissent re Hulme and Lewis. Glory-figures such as Brooke and Grenfell follow; then the disillusionment of the trenches personified by Graves and Sassoon; and a highly interesting chapter juxtaposing the differing temperament and talent of Owen and Rosenberg. Bergonzi offers an excellent analysis of David Jones' idiosyncratic restoration of the heroic myth, In Parenthesis, as well as a sensitive survey of various prose works, from the memoirs of Blunden, Graves and Sassoon, to the fiction of Ford, Aldington, Mottram, et al., and a quick but perceptive appreciation of home front activity (Lawrence, Wells, Pound). The style is sophisticated if somewhat bland; the assessment while accenting the aesthetic side always, nevertheless, focuses fruitfully on underlying socio-political European crises and aftermaths.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1965
ISBN: 1857541359
Publisher: Coward McCann