SIEGFRIED SASSOON DIARIES 1915 – 1918 Edited and introduced by Rupert Hart- Davis
Siegfried Sassoon was almost twenty-eight when he enlisted on 3 August 1914. Till then, after education at Marlborough and Clare Collage, Cambridge, he had lived at home, hunting and playing cricket in Kent and Sussex, and writing agreeably derivative poems which he had privately printed in very small editions. It was the terrible impact of the Western Front that turned him from a versifier into a poet.
These diaries, written in tiny notebooks, sometimes in pencil, often by the light of a solitary candle in dug-out or billet, provided the material for his first three prose books, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and Sherston’s Progress -books which, along with his war poems, established his fame.
The correspondence between the diaries and the published books is a close one; but in the books a thin veil of fiction is drawn over the events described – names are altered, events heightened. Here, instead, are raw, immediate reports on events as they happened; and included in the diaries are many poems which Sassoon eventually thought worthy of publication only in a periodical or not at all.
They form an unforgettable picture of an appalling time by one of its greatest recorders.
Jacket photograph courtesy of the Imperial war Museum
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