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Keeping up with the novelists

John Bayley, 20 June 1985

Unholy Pleasure: The Idea of Social Class 
by P.N. Furbank.
Oxford, 154 pp., £9.50, June 1985, 0 19 215955 0
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... still take a stern view, as once about sex, on the proper way to approach the topic. Dr Paul Fussell, who recently wrote a light-hearted book on the American class system, got some very stuffy reviews. ‘Decent people know about these things but don’t talk about them’ still seems surprisingly the accepted thing, observed in their different ...

Shaky Do

Tony Gould, 5 May 1988

Mary and Richard: The Story of Richard Hillary and Mary Booker 
by Michael Burn.
Deutsch, 249 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 233 98280 9
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... on the very next page when he says that The Last Enemy ‘is a legend of a conversion’. Paul Fussell, in his study The Great War and Modern Memory, talks about the ‘triadic’ structure of ‘the paradigmatic war memoir’ and relates it to Medieval romance literature: ‘training, “combat”, recovery – or ...


Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... has an internationalism still rare in such anthologies. In this respect, it’s an improvement on Paul Fussell’s recent The Bloody Game: An Anthology of Modern War. Fussell covers a bigger time-span, and where his choices overlap with Richler’s, his extracts from them tend to be both better-chosen and longer. All ...

How the sanity of poets can be edited away

Arnold Rattenbury: The Sanity of Ivor Gurney, 14 October 1999

‘Severn and Somme’ and ‘War’s Embers’ 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85754 348 3
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80 Poems or So 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by George Walter and R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 148 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 344 0
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... so. Perhaps we are in the realm of that more general, sexually innocent homoeroticism discussed by Paul Fussell in The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) or in Martin Taylor’s less fashionable, less thesis-driven anthology, Lads, republished in 1998. In Taylor’s collection, so often are the poems bad, unaware (Ronald-like?) or puny that the best among ...

Where on Earth are you?

Frances Stonor Saunders, 3 March 2016

... no appeal, the one ‘likeness’ guaranteed to show you looking the way you never want to look. Paul Fussell called it ‘the most egregious little modernism’, redolent of ‘the world of Prufrock and Joseph K and Malone’, and indeed every time my photo is scrutinised by a passport officer, it’s as if I’ve entered that same world of anxiety and ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front, 4 April 2002

... I read and acquired the obvious classics: Graves, Owen, Sassoon, Remarque, Barbusse, Brittain, Fussell. But I had lots of other fads and hobbies going too: opera, Baroque painting, Kurosawa films, the Titanic, the Romanovs, trashy lesbian novels. Sometimes my preoccupations overlapped: I became fascinated, for example, with the long World War One sequence ...

Mauve Monkeys

William Fiennes, 18 September 1997

Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy and the First World War 
by Philip Hoare.
Duckworth, 250 pp., £16.95, July 1997, 0 7156 2737 6
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... country is a grey hinterland in which nothing interesting seems to be happening. He has none of Paul Fussell’s concern, in The Great War and Modern Memory, to know ‘what the ordinary man has to say about it all’. Seduced by the flamboyance of the Billings and the Rosses, Hoare has little time for the world of Pat Barker’s Billy Prior, the ...


Max Hastings: Letters from the Front, 10 September 2015

... in France. In 1975 he was moved to write to the historian Michael Howard by exasperation with Paul Fussell’s newly published The Great War and Modern Memory. Fussell, an American critic and veteran of World War Two, suggested that what had happened to those who fought in France was so uniquely dreadful that it ...

The Past’s Past

Thomas Laqueur, 19 September 1996

Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History 
by Jay Winter.
Cambridge, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1996, 0 521 49682 9
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... until the century’s second great catastrophe. This is not the common view. The title alone of Paul Fussell’s enormously influential The Great War and Modern Memory (1975), for example, proclaims the contrary. So does the concluding line – ‘Never such innocence again’ – of Philip Larkin’s 1960 poem ‘MCMXIV’, invoking the summer ...

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