Epilogue A Stranger on Earth



During the last ten years of his life, following his conversion, Sassoon was no longer interested in his posthumous literary reputation, though he felt that it would be by the Sherston Trilogy that he would be remembered: “the war poems (the significant and successful ones) will end up as mere appendices to the matured humanity of the Memoirs” (LC, 14). In June 1965 he received the Honorary Degree of D. Litt. at the University of Oxford. Academic recognition now meant little to the 78-year-old, and he only accepted because he knew it would give pleasure to his friends. The Latin citation (for which David Cecil had been one of the advisors) called Sassoon an eminent artist whose prose works “Commentarii Venatoris Vulpium et Tribuni Peditum” had portrayed “the good qualities of the horse and the senseless barbarities of the war”. Sassoon’s only objection to the speech was that no reference was made to his spiritual journey: “I suppose ‘the world’ was being on the safe side, as usual”.1 This reference to the world outside as an almost alien presence is typical of Sassoon’s state of mind.


Imaginative Power Spiritual Struggle Reading Public Mental Wound Academic Recognition 
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  1. 6.
    Philip Larkin, ‘The Pleasure Principle’, in Listen 2 (Summer-Autumn 1957). Quoted in Blake Morrison (1980), p. 127.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    David Lodge, ‘Turning Unhappiness into Money: Fiction and the Market’, in Working with Structuralism (London, 1986), p. 163.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    One of the best examples is Russell Brain’s Tea with Walter de la Mare (London, 1957), in which Brain (a neurologist) recalls conversations he had with de la Mare in the 1950s. He shows how even late in life de la Mare was still keen to talk and think about just anything, and how he kept wondering about the mysteries of life (though anybody who has two neurologist friends whose names are Henry Head and Russell Brain has at least something to wonder about).Google Scholar
  4. 23.
    Michael Thorpe: ‘For S.S. (Died September 1st, 1967)’, 11. 3–6. In: By the Niger and Other Poems (London, 1969), p. 81.Google Scholar

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© Paul Moeyes 1997

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