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Strange Meetings: The Poets of the Great War [Hardcover]

Harry Ricketts
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

4 Nov 2010

Strange Meetings provides a highly original account of the War Poets of 1914 -1918, written through a series of actual encounters, or near-encounters: from Siegfried Sassoon’s first, blushing meeting with Rupert Brooke over kidneys and bacon at Eddie Marsh’s breakfasts before the war, through famous moments like Sassoon’s encouragement of Owen when both were in hospital at the same time, to the poignant meeting between Edward Thomas’ widow and Ivor Gurney in 1932, and the last, strange lunch and ‘longish talk’of Sassoon and David Jones in 1964, half a century after the great war began.

Among the other poets and writers we encounter are Vera Brittain and Roland Leighton, Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg, Robert Nicols and Edmund Blunden. Ricketts' unusual approach allows him to follow their relationships, marking their responses to each other's work and showing how these affected their own poetry - one potent strand, for example, is the profound influence of Brooke, both as a model to follow and a burden to reject.

The stories become intensely personal and vivid – we come to know each of the poets, their family and intellectual backgrounds and their very different personalities. And while the accounts of individual lives achieve the imaginative vividness of a novel, they also give us an entirely fresh sense of Georgian poetry, conveying all the excitement and frustration of poetic creation, and demonstrating how the whole notion of what poetry should be 'about' became fractured and changed for ever by the terrible experiences of the war.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (4 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701172711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701172718
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 554,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


`This fascinating book gives a realistic and very human account of the lives and works of these brave poets...' --Financial Times, Tom Paulin

`Ricketts offers a brilliantly original perspective on the lives and works of the First World War poets...' --Waterstone's Book Quarterly

`Affecting, illuminating and immediate' --History Today, Juliet Gardiner

Ricketts tells the story of their friendships so as to highlight mutual influences, envies, admirations and disgruntlements. It makes the poems seem linked to one another as well as their circumstances, and adds a sense of intimacy as well as common purpose. --Guardian

Rickett's approach shows that the poetry of the war did not simply emerge from the carnage-harrowed minds of individual poets, but through mutual encouragement and rivalry. --New Statesman

merits the attention of anyone who cares about poetry. --The Tablet

`will appeal to those who love the work of the Great War poets and want to know a little more about them' --Universe, January 7, 2011

`constantly engaging, amiable account of one of the golden periods of English poetry'
--Literary Review

Book Description

An unusual and moving account of the lives and work of the poets of the Great War, 1914-1918.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry and history 15 Jan 2011
By Robert Archer VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The title of the book refers to real and imagined meetings of poets of the First World War and is taken from Wilfrid Owen`s poem of the same name. By using the device of the meetings the author has been able to create a narrative which combines history with imagination with literary insight and,perhaps most importantly, raise questions about the poetry itself. I`ve been a reader of poetry of this period for many years and it was rewarding to sometimes put a new perspective on some of the work.
In the first chapter a meeting is described between two poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke. From here on the influence, for good or bad, of Rupert Brooke is established. Time and again poets are seen to position themselves consciously or unconsciously to Brooke`s poetry or to the man himself. Early on Vera Brittain wrote to Roland Leighton `Somehow I feel that Rupert Brooke must have been rather like you`. Then the author makes the perceptive insight about Vera Brittain and Roland Leighton`s relationship that they used books as the `touchstone of authentic feelings and thought`. The idea that amongst such horror such feelings could exist makes the observation so much more poignant.
I was particularly pleased to see that Ivor Gurney was given due consideratio. Too often this poet`s work is overlooked.
For anyone interested in this period, whether it be historical or poetic, I think the book should be read. For anyone who has never read any poetry from this period it might well be worth a read and act as a spur to reading the actual poems themselves.
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