Tomorrow I'll be posting my entry about Private Peaceful, which is only half done at the moment. It won't be finished tonight, so I'll post it tomorrow, which is the due date for Caroline's Literature and War Readalong. Please refer to the blog "Beauty is a Sleeping Cat" in the "Blogs of Substance" list to the right.
So World War I Reading: Have you read or are you planning to read the books I hope to read?
1. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.
2. Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger (Do you know of anyone who is reading or who has read this German World War I Classic?)
I have the Penguin classic Storm of Steel from the library. Unfortunately the library system's only copy is in a dreadful state. I'm contemplating ordering a copy. What were your views of this book?
In January 1972 I purchased a wonderful volume of Wilfred Owen's poems, which I still proudly own. I was so hungry for it, as a 19-year-old living during the Vietnam War era. Owen wrote so courageously about living amidst constant death and annihilation, which made my 19-year-old self sit up and take notice. He was my favorite WWI writer of that time. Poetry about suffering spoke to me strongly. Have you read Wilfred Owen?
I read Sassoon at that time, e.e. cummings, Robert Graves, and many, many more, all because I took a 4-week winter intensive course in World War I literature at my college of the moment--this was my first year of college, the year before I attended the college that let me be me, the college that made all the difference. Unfortunately, in 1972, at the first college, the young professor believed he held the #1 cornerstone on suffering, so he lectured to us for 3 hours a day, five days a week, without ever letting a single one of us students say a single word. The hubris of it, really. And, if you can imagine, a bit later, he slept with my roommate in the dorm. Enough said about literary authority.
Because I came from a top-notch high school and had been enthusiastically encouraged to speak my mind, I rebelled by knitting a vest throughout these 3-hour monologues in the winter World War I Lit course. Professor was not too pleased, but he did not tell me to stop knitting. It was a pass/fail course, so I did not worry.
I learned nothing from this professor, but I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from the readings. I felt a unique kinship with Owen and the pain he painted so vividly in his poetry.
To this day, I continue to identify strongly with the suffering of soldiers. I feel I understand everything they say, and experience a strange kinship, though I've never been on an actual battlefield. How about you?
“The Bear Came Over the Mountain” Alice Munro
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