I hope you are all well on this horrible rainy, grey day. Ahhh, if only it would snow! I'm terribly fed up with this Aberdonian weather, plus, snow is just awesome in general :)
Anyway, last night, before I pottered off to bed, I delved into the final chapter of the latest book I've been reading. The book is 'Tommy', written by the infamous Richard Holmes. This man is fantastic! But, anyway, why am I telling you this I hear you ask (or shout violently at the monitor)? Well, basically, I am such a huge fan of anything to do with war, whether it be depicted in novels, poems, drama or songs, so I thought I would share my interest with you all. I know some of you will have absolutely no interest in regards to this blog, but I do know others will share my passion.
One of my favourite war novels of all time is 'Birdsong', by Sebastian Faulks. This is an extremely long read but every page is simply priceless. Sebastian depicts the stages of one man's life, Stephen Wraysford, before and during the First World War. When I first picked up this book, I could not put it down! It is filled with such suspense, emotion, romance and action that I just wanted to read on. You will not be disappointed with this book. I guarantee you!
'Storm of Steel', by Ernst Junger, is also a fabulous book. 'Storm of Steel' is a memoir of the author who had the role of a German Officer on the Western Front during World War One. According to Richard Holmes, it is "Unquestionably one of the mosts striking accounts of the First World War." Holmes speaks the truth. The detail in this book describing real accounts really does pull of one's heartstrings and does not disappoint.
'Cold Mountain', written by Charles Frazier, depicts a young man, Inman, trying to make his way home to his one and only, during the American Civil War. This was another novel that I could not take my eyes from! This novel shows exactly what determination entails and defines true love. 'Cold Mountain' is another heart wrenching depiction of the horrors created by war.
Let's not forget 'Tommy' as mentioned above! This book portrays the lives of the 'British Soldiers' on the Western Front from 1914-1918. This is one of the longest books I have read to date. Every page in itself is it's own story. According to Saul David, it is "A welcome and refreshing corrective to the perceived wisdom of the war. Fascinating, balanced and original." This book really does play with your emotions, due to the tragedy and hardship described from beginning to end.
For me, the most enjoyable way to read a book is to be sitting on an armchair, beside a blazing fire, or sitting beside a bay window with a fantastic view. Whichever way I decide to read a book, I always, without fail, make sure I have a large mug of tea in hand. This is just bliss for me and is one of the best ways to relax. Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury of being able to sit by a log fire as we are deprived of having such a thing in our flat! Sad face :( Hence, I cannot wait to go home! I miss my home comforts.
So anyway, let's talk poetry. When I think of war poetry, two names automatically pop into my head. Those names being, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. I'm sure, for some, these names are familiar, but for those of you who don't know who I'm on about, I highly suggest you look at their material. Sassoon and Owen were both soldiers during World War One and they both took to writing poems about their experiences.
Sassoon poems I would recommend :
Suicide in the Trenches
Glory of Women
Before the Battle
Does it Matter?
Owen poems I would recommend :
Dulce et Decorum Est
I saw his Round Mouth's Crimson
Anthem for doomed Youth
There are many more, but this is a list of my favourite. When first looking at them it can be quite difficult to understand what it is they are going on about, but once you analyse each stanza (as I did, because I'm a geek) the poem really does come to life and is much easier to understand.
Siegfried and Sassoon, by far the best war poets, in my opinion.
Now, way back in 2007 there was a drama on ITV called 'My Boy Jack', directed by Brian Kirk. This drama depicts the true to life story of Rudyard Kipling (some of you may know him as the author of The Jungle Book) and his wife's search for their missing son (played by Daniel Radcliffe, or better known to some of us as Harry Potter!) during World War One. This drama was such a beautiful portrayal of such tragedy, that I could not find any faults with it. I highly recommend you watch this. I'm pretty sure it is on Youtube, so please, have a look!
Finally, seeing as my dad knows I am a fan of anything to do with war he told me to look up a song on Youtube called 'The Green Fields of France', by The Fureys. This is basically an anti-war song. It is such a sad song, but it contains beautiful lyrics. I adore it.
Anyway, I feel I have ranted on long enough about war depictions! I hope some of you decide to look into some of the material I have suggested. If not, then fair enough! Each to their own :) Thank you anyway for taking the time to read this.
Speak soon and take care all!