A 1930 Critique of War Literature, by Douglas Jerrold
|Conservative historian and publisher Douglas Jerrold, a man once described as "an uncompromising controversialist," in 1930 found himself quite dissatisfied with the literature – both fictional and memoirs in the form of novels – taking the war as its subject. He published a scathing pamphlet titled The Lie About the War that grouped together such recent "best sellers," which are now rated the war's "classics," as All Quiet on the Western Front, Good-bye to All That, Under Fire, The Secret Battle, Storm of Steel, The Enormous Room and theSpanish Farm Trilogy, and described what he saw as their common and central flaw. I believe the excerpt below captures the heart of Jerrold's argument. Incidentally, in the 1950s Jerrold became better known for publishing an equally powerful rejection of the works of mega-historian Arnold Toynbee.
Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the treadEdward Thomas, Roads
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
The Lie About the War: A 1930 Critique of War Literature