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Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man

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Abstract

In his diary entry for 26 March 1921 Sassoon notes how he walked home that evening after dinner at the Reform Club

feeling dangerously confident in myself and the masterpiece that I’ll be writing five, ten, fifteen or twenty years hence. That masterpiece has become a perfectly definite object in my existence, but it is curious, and rather disquieting, that I always dream of it as a novel or a prose drama, rather than as a poem or series of poems (D2, 53).

The man who considered himself a poet long before he actually became one now believed himself capable of writing a prose masterpiece, although until that moment he had never even tried writing fictional prose.

Keywords

Diary Entry Biblical Story Perfect Order Fellow Officer Trench Fever 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    When he reread this passage in his diaries in 1939, Sassoon added the following note: “Homosexuality has become a bore; the intelligentsia have captured it. S.S.” (D2, 53, n.1).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Forster, Selected Letters — Vol. I (1985), p. 316. Forster destroyed these stories in 1922.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Quoted in Thorpe (1966), p.70.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    J.B. Priestley: The Edwardians (London, 1970), p.57.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Cf. Edward Thomas, The Heart of England (Oxford, 1982), pp. 157–58; Helen Thomas, As It Was and World Without End (London, 1978), p 135; John Masefield, Grace before Ploughing (London, 1966), pp. 39–40.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    All page references in the text are to the first edition, ninth impression, published by Faber & Faber in February 1930.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Robert Graves: In Broken Images: Selected Letters 1914–1946 ed. by Paul O’Prey (London, 1982), p. 208. Memoirs of an Infantry Officer had then not yet been published, but by March 1930 the manuscript had been completed.Google Scholar
  8. 23.
    The barbed wire threat for the huntsman was real enough, though. Cf. The Weald of Youth, pp. 156–57, where he describes the trouble the Master of the Atherstone had in persuading farmers not to use barbed wire.Google Scholar
  9. 24.
    Catherine Gordon, British Paintings of the 19th Century (London, 1981), p.72.Google Scholar
  10. 25.
    Text from manuscript. The poem is reprinted in Diaries 1915–1918, p. 263 and Rupert Hart-Davis’ edition of the War Poems, p. 122.Google Scholar
  11. 26.
    George apparently forgot that his Surtees hero John Jorrocks was also a self-made man: in chapter two of Jorrocks Jaunts and Jollities he is described as “a substantial grocer in St. Botolph’s Lane, with an elegant residence in Great Coram Street, Russell Square”.Google Scholar
  12. 27.
    George Orwell’s story of the London poor going hop-picking in Kent was not published until seven years later, in A Clergymans Daughter (1935).Google Scholar
  13. 28.
    Cf. Sassoon’s war poem ‘Memorial Tablet’, 11.13–4: “Once I came home on leave: and then went west… / What greater glory could a man desire?”.Google Scholar
  14. 29.
    Cf. Diaries 1915–1918, pp. 122, 123, 126, 127.Google Scholar
  15. 30.
    George Moore, The Brook Kerith (London, 1952), p. 372.Google Scholar
  16. 31.
    The Brook Kerith, p. 304.Google Scholar
  17. 32.
    David Jones was also struck by the solemn ritual of ‘stand-to’, cf. In Parenthesis (London, 1982; first published 1937), Part 4, note 3, p. 202. R.H. Mottram refers to the men emerging from the dug-outs in biblical terms, only he compares it with the Judgment Day resurrection: “At dusk, directly the light is too dim to see movement from one trench to another, there’s a most extraordinary scene. Do you remember the old Doré picture of the Resurrection? […] Men that have lain hidden in or just behind the lines suddenly appear out of their holes” (from: Sixty-Four, Ninety-Four (1925), the second volume of The Spanish Farm Trilogy (London, 1927), pp. 280–81.Google Scholar

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© Paul Moeyes 1997

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