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Wilfred Owen Hardcover – 4 Feb 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st Edition edition (4 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300153007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300153002
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 279,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My biography of Wilfred Owen was recently published by Yale University Press: 'scintillating' (Times Higher Education), 'truly lovely' (Birmingham Post), 'very readable, focused, vigorous, well-documented' (The New Statesman), 'impressive' (The Sunday Herald), 'Book of the Week' (The Daily Mail), 'written with such sincerity, diligence and empathy' (The Financial Times), 'absorbing' (TLS), 'admirably thorough' (The Sunday Times), 'this book is rewarding' (Country Life), Booklist starred review - Top 10 Biographies of the Year, 'scrupulous, thoughtful, open-minded, fired with enthusiasm for the poems and respect for the man - a fine biography' (The Times), 'an original, sparkling book' (Friends of the Dymock Poets Newsletter), 'lively, frequently witty, and extensively researched' (The Use of English), 'highly recommended' (The National Review).

'a scintillating biography [...] For a long time Owen has been set in stone, his poetry ossifying into anti-war cliché. Cuthbertson has made him live again' (Times Higher Education Supplement)

'rarely has a poet been better served than by Guy Cuthbertson's sensitive and beautifully-written account [...] highly readable, using a wealth of fascinating detail [...] Should you purchase this truly lovely and deeply humane book, I guarantee you will read and re-read it - maybe for the rest of your life.' (Birmingham Post)

'Top Ten Biographies: 2014' - the top ten biographies of the year, 2013-14: 'Cuthbertson sensitively considers Owen's childlike charm, objections to the war, and heroism at the front' (Booklist)

I am Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Liverpool Hope University. I studied at St Andrews University and then at The Queen's College, Oxford University (M.Phil and D.Phil), and I have held lectureships at Oxford (St Edmund Hall and Merton), Swansea, Brighton and London (Queen Mary) as well as a teaching fellowship at St Andrews.

http://www.hope.ac.uk/staff/cuthbeg.html

Product Description

Review

'Cuthbertson is scrupulous, thoughtful and open-minded. His book is fired with enthusiasm for the poems and respect for the man who created them. The result is a fine biography.'--John Sutherland, 'The Times' --John Sutherland, 'The Times' (03/15/2014)

'And rarely has a poet been better served than by Guy Cuthbertson's sensitive and beautifully-written account... Should you purchase this truly lovely and deeply humane book, I guarantee you will read and re-read it - maybe for the rest of your life.'--Richard Edmonds, 'Birmingham Post' --Richard Edmonds, 'Birmingham Post'

About the Author

Guy Cuthbertson is lecturer in English literature at Liverpool Hope University and an expert on the First World War poets. He lives in Liverpool.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr James Lowe on 12 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Guy Cuthbertson's new biography of Wilfred Owen is a wide-ranging, evocative and penetrating work that places Owen firmly in his context and illuminates both Owen's deep reading and his quest for literary resonance. Without the war, it is arguable whether Owen would have produced timeless work. Much of his pre-war poetry consists of workmanlike Georgian tributes to Keats and Tennyson, handling the kind of ancient settings and bucolic whimsy that were punctured by Eliot and the Modernists. However, through some expert close reading and his sturdy command of poetics, Cuthbertson illustrates how the war made Owen's poetry modern and technically dazzling. This is brought to life by much forensic analysis, including his incisive commentary on the importance of the Liverpool accent to the dissection of Owen's rhyming techniques. Cuthbertson also provides detailed portrayals of Owen's obsessions, both healthy and unhealthy, (his devotion to his mother, whilst in its own way admirable, may have hindered his emotional development) and insights such as the importance of Wales and ancestry, the contents of his library and his interest in antique furniture. Owen's religion and his relationship to the other war poets Sassoon and Graves are discussed, along with his fascination with public schools, Oxford and class-consciousness.

This biography is not a chronicle of Owen's daily life, but seeks to portray the atmosphere and ambience of the pre-war Britain and France that Owen lived in as they discoloured through war.
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Format: Hardcover
This pleasing biography of Wilfred Owen offers a sympathetic reading that counters the notion that Owen was made a poet by the war. Rather than supposing that the poet's life can be summed up in important events, it shows that Owen's vocation came from his approach to everyday life. From humble lower middle-class beginnings and a series of displacements, Owen developed a fascination with literature and fantasy, antiques and an Oxford education. An early love of beauty and adventure provided an unusual background to one who was known for detailing the horrors of the trenches. Curiously, the war did provide an opportunity for Owen to attain the status necessary for his recognition as a poet (partly through editing the magazine Hydra at Craiglockhart, a place that became a kind of Oxford for him) and its wounds provided an impetus to draw on his own inner world. Yet it seems that his early disappointments and enthusiasms provided resources for his imaginative approach to the war. As the poet himself contained these apparent contradictions, this book combines insight into individual poems, musings on the poet's friendships and frustrations, pastimes and horrors. All of this is necessary to overcome a myth of Owen as some naïve, unschooled inheritor of poetic genius, and to understand Owen's response to the war.

Cuthbertson's narrative focuses around Owen's idealisation of childhood, from an enduring attachment to his mother to the innocent love his poetry reveals for youth and beauty. This Romantic fascination with childhood combined with a love of escapist children's literature. Even while in training at Hare Hall Officer Training Camp, the poet-to-be was hoping to write for Boy's Own.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book because a friend recommended it to me. I usually avoid books about the First World War and I am only familiar with Wilfred Owen's more famous poetry. So I came to it with some reservations and a lot of ignorance. I expected it to be erudite and thorough and give me with new information about a subject I wasn't familiar with. It does all that, but it is also interesting, entertaining and at times moving. The author has a very distinctive voice and is both funny and tender about his subject.

It is the story of a boy and a "boyish" young man trying to fulfill his ambition of becoming a poet, in spite of being lower middle class and without the financial resources to provide the education he wanted. So not public school and Oxford but a technical college and work teaching English in France. The author traces all the influences on Owen's development as a poet and explores some of the unresolved questions about his sexuality.

It was the First world War that allowed Owen to become an officer and made such dramatic changes to his life. This is not the pacifist poet that I had I had expected but a brave young man trying to make his experiences count in poetry. This book sent me back to read the poetry again with new insight. That, I think , it the best recommendation for a biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lillis on 7 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Twenty pages in and I am struggling with the many irrelevant facts and metaphors thrown in - comparison with John Lennon's Strawberry fields comes to mind, or the fact that the name Winifred includes the letters in 'fire', and the author's claim that Owen was fascinated by fire. I continued reading because the book was a gift and I assumed the person who gave it to me would ask me about it at some point. Also hoped it would improve as the topic is of great interest to me.
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