Fussell and Jones

I’m enjoying Paul Fussell. I’m reading him on the Great War now and forming the opinion that the reason there isn’t as much writing on the Great War is that it was a lot more despairing of a war with not so many clear targets and resolved situations as WWII. Tends to wear down folks’ interest. I also got a book by a guy whose grandfather had been in it. The guy researched and produced an amateur book, but I couldn’t read it because of how badly he wrote. Still, it was consistently sad in its own heavy-handed way.

Paul Fussell is not always on, and he tends to lean toward the Sassoon and Owen view of things, which I do not, but he has a lot of good things and writes awfully well. Good on random literary observations too.

David Jones was in the trenches. Fussell has a paragraph on him Jones’ admirers take great umbrage to, but Fussell not exactly notoriously against, in the main. So I’m back into David Jones. The New York Review of Books has brought out his In Parenthesis, about which Auden said great things. You should get it if modernism is at all your literary ism. Eliot was not unenthusiastic about Jones either. In fact, Fussell positively compares the two because of their religious persistence in a modern sensibility. I picked up a volume of later fragments of Jones’ poems years back that eventually I read before church in Bogotá during several Sundays. Now that I know he was in the trenches, and what with Fussell’s help noticing dawn and twilight, threes, how Hardy looms in vision over the scenes of WWI, David Jones makes more sense.

Somebody is getting rid of Fussell here. I saw two copies of his book at the Graceland Half-Wit, not to mention the copy I got down at the Lane Half-Wit which is the local repository for most of the history wealth. Bet there’s more there. It’s a good work: The Great War and Modern Memory.


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