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16 June 1983
Sherston’s Progress 
by Siegfried Sassoon.
Faber, 150 pp., £2.25, March 1983, 9780571130337
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The War Poems of Siegfried​ Sassoon 
by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 160 pp., £5.25, March 1983, 0 571 13010 0
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Siegfried Sassoon​ Diaries 1915-1918 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 288 pp., £10.50, March 1983, 0 571 11997 2
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... With the appearance of Sherston’s Progress in 1936, SiegfriedSassoon completed what Howard Spring, writing in the Evening Standard, called ‘the most satisfying piece of autobiography to be published in our time’. Other reviewers and commentators, then and later ...

Hairy

E.S. Turner

1 October 1987
The war the Infantry knew 1914-1919: A Chronicle of Service in France and Belgium 
by Captain J.C. Dunn, introduced by Keith Simpson.
Jane’s, 613 pp., £18, April 1987, 0 7106 0485 8
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Passchendaele: The Story behind the Tragic Victory of 1917 
by Philip Warner.
Sidgwick, 269 pp., £13.95, June 1987, 0 283 99364 2
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Poor Bloody Infantry: A Subaltern on the Western Front 1916-17 
by Bernard Martin.
Murray, 174 pp., £11.95, April 1987, 0 7195 4374 6
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... Three writers on the strength is a potential embarrassment for any fighting unit. In the Great War the Second Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers could muster Robert Graves (Good-bye to All That), SiegfriedSassoon (Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer) and Frank Richards (not, as some have supposed, the creator of Billy Bunter but the author of Old soldiers never die, an ...

Roses

Stephen Wall

27 June 1991
Regeneration 
by Pat Barker.
Viking, 252 pp., £13.99, May 1991, 0 670 82876 9
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Rose Reason 
by Mary Flanagan.
Bloomsbury, 388 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 7475 0888 7
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Rose 
by Rose Boyt.
Chatto, 182 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 7011 3728 2
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... Hydro – an Italianate pile near Edinburgh – opened in 1880, but it figures in literary history because it was taken over as a military hospital in 1916. Wilfred Owen was sent there, and so was SiegfriedSassoon. That their meeting, and the place itself, had a catalytic effect on Owen’s poetry has long been recognised. When, in her new novel, Pat Barker shows Sassoon and Owen discussing the diction ...
25 April 1991
... kind of image the old pro projected and presented. A 17th-century poet, writing an epitaph, would have given us a conceit about death being glad to have got him at last. A tender-hearted chap like SiegfriedSassoon might have shaken his head, on the other hand, and regretted that those who were young and hated war should have to die ‘when cruel old campaigners win safe through’. Epitaphs apart, what ...

Trouble down there

Ferdinand Mount: Tea with Sassoon

7 August 2003
Siegfried SassoonThe Making of a War Poet 1886-1918 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 7156 2894 1
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Siegfried SassoonThe Journey from the Trenches 1918-67 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 526 pp., £30, April 2003, 0 7156 2971 9
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SassoonThe Worlds of Philip and Sybil 
by Peter Stansky.
Yale, 295 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09547 3
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... how to shoot, he had to cadge. We borrowed an old 12-bore from a local farmer, a rickety weapon the lock, stock and barrel of which were barely connected, and my father then asked his neighbour, SiegfriedSassoon, who lived in the next village, whether we could loose off a few cartridges in his woods. They had become friends through a shared interest in steeplechasing, cricket and poetry and also ...
12 July 1990
Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant 
by Philip Hoare.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 241 12416 6
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... There was an outburst of gossip when he became the centre of the ‘Ellesmere Ball Row’, when a hostess accused him of gate-crashing, and a louder one when, round 1928, he began an affair with SiegfriedSassoon. These were his halcyon days. He had become an institution, and an institution he remained throughout the next chequered sixty years, when – the affair with Sassoon having broken down – ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: David Jones’s War

19 March 2015
... the last part unfolding in Mametz Wood where, on 10 July, more than a week into the Battle of the Somme, he and his comrades in the Royal Welch Fusiliers were finally committed (they had relieved SiegfriedSassoon’s battalion on 5 July). Once the attack on the wood begins the allusion thickens like an archaic undergrowth through which the reader struggles in a state of hyper-attentive dismay, one eye ...

The Beast on My Back

Gerald Weissmann

6 June 1996
The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 
by Allan Young.
Princeton, 327 pp., £28, March 1996, 0 691 03352 8
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... distressing to almost anyone’, followed by such symptoms as repetitive recall of the trauma, psychological numbing, amnesia, insomnia or other forms of automatic arousal. Readers of Robert Graves, SiegfriedSassoon or Pat Barker should not be surprised that this description of PTSD turns out to have a strong resemblance to the description of shell-shock that has become part of the modern literary ...
9 June 1994
Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society 
by Norman Gash.
Oxford, 407 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 820429 9
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... who has almost always been praised simply as a reporter of the English scene in the mid-19th century, even on the few occasions when he has come under the notice of fairly ambitious critics, such as SiegfriedSassoon, Quentin Bell and Anthony Powell. There is very little published comment on Surtees from his own day, but what there is tends to be emphatic about his fidelity to life. ‘The account of the ...
19 December 1985
... which they described the peaceful scenes that had first evoked their poetic gifts. Their verse is all the more compelling for its quiet understatement, its gentle but remorseless irony. Some like SiegfriedSassoon shouted themselves hoarse in trying to penetrate the carapace of ignorance which protected the illusions of the population at home. And there were some, like the master of them all, Wilfred ...

Women

Christopher Ricks

20 May 1982
My Sister and Myself: The Diaries of J.R. Ackerley 
edited by Francis King.
Hutchinson, 217 pp., £8.95, March 1982, 9780091470203
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... loathed them both back. She also loathed their old aunt Bunny, whom Ackerley only intermittently hated. When Ackerley took a break, he contrived a busman’s Roman holiday, since he went to stay with SiegfriedSassoon, who was fully occupied loathing his wife, as she him. ‘He was obviously very wrought up over her emotional persecution of him, and described at much length her jealous rows, resentments ...

Convictions

C.H. Sisson

9 November 1989
Edgell Rickword: A Poet at War 
by Charles Hobday.
Carcanet, 337 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 85635 883 5
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... the New Statesman. A published poet! In the months before he went up to Oxford he renewed his acquaintance with Turner, who naturally knew other people in the literary world, and introduced him to SiegfriedSassoon, then literary editor of the Daily Herald, ‘who in turn introduced him to his fellow scribbler of the 36th Brigade, Edmund Blunden’. It was thus that, at the age of 20, Rickword himself ...

Gosserie

J.I.M. Stewart

5 April 1984
Edmund Gosse: A Literary Landscape 1849-1928 
by Ann Thwaite.
Secker, 567 pp., £15, April 1984, 0 436 52146 6
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... made his way into the society and regard of the leading artists and writers of the age, and this position he retains for something like sixty years. Swinburne is devoted to him at the start, as is SiegfriedSassoon at the close, and Henry James is going to address over four hundred letters to him. He weathers two major storms, one emotional and the other resulting from a rash claim that if not a poet he ...

Snouty

John Bayley

4 June 1987
The Faber Book of Diaries 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 498 pp., £12.95, March 1987, 0 571 13806 3
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... a solitary consciousness, rattling to and fro in its cage, caring for nothing and for nobody. Being attractive, even seductive, in imagination is certainly a diary solace. Unexpected people, like SiegfriedSassoon, reveal a sort of solitary skittishness. ‘Rainy weather. Does the weather matter in a journal? Lunched alone; does that matter? (Grilled turbot and apple pudding, if you want full details ...

Diary

Max Hastings: Letters from the Front

9 September 2015
... the Western Front, sustained by several bestselling modern novelists: that it prompted among intelligent people a uniform generational response, a revulsion of the kind reflected in the writings of SiegfriedSassoon and Erich Maria Remarque. In truth, attitudes varied as widely as do perceptions of all manner of human experience, in peace or in war. Uncle Aubrey was one of a large Catholic family, whose ...

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