Sherston's Progress: The Memoirs of George Sherston (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 28 May 2013
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
Siegfried Sassoon (1886 1967) was a poet and novelist whose novels include the James Tait Black Award winning "Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man." He is recognized as one of the great poets of World War I and one of the war s most influential opponents.
Paul Fussell (1925 2012) was a writer, editor, and historian whose experiences in World War II led to his writing the award-winning classic "The Great War and Modern Memory." He was also the editor of the collection "Sassoon s Long Journey.""
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
This book and the preceding two volumes, should be included in any serious study of european history of the 20th century.
Sassoon sadly cannot be found in contemporary archives, either film or sound whereas Graves can be seen and heard in the BBC archives (Muggeridge interview). Few can have had his experiences during the Great War and his bravery up until his mental collapse is heroic.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Sherston Trilogy are semi-autobiographical novels by Siegfried Sassoon, the English poet and war hero who famously threw his Military Cross into the river Mersey and wrote an eloquent denunciation of British war policy while WW1 was still raging. The first book dealt with "George Sherston's" formative years in late Victorian/early Edwardian England: a sedately beautiful portrait of a bygone era of horse races, trophy cups, claret, flannel bags, pipe smoke, riding boots, boarding schools and snobbery, snobbery, snobbery, which was abruptly and brutally ended by the First World War. The second explored the painful growing-up Sherston experienced as an infantry officer at the front, which saw his boundless thirst for glory evaporate into a sullen resentment at those who he felt were prolonging the war for purely imperialist ends; a resentment which led him to being locked up in a mental institution to spare the government embarrassment. SHERSTON'S PROGRESS picks up where this book left off, with Sherston leaving the institution having resolved to see the war through, despite maintaining it had outlived its original aims. It is a novel which reflects the deep and profound changes that occur when one lives not only through a brutal and stupidly-fought war, but through the end of a great era.
As I mentioned, PROGRESS is much shorter than its predecessors, taking place over a single year which begins with his admission to Slateford War Hospital for "war neurosis" in 1917. There Sherston meets the man who will guide and shape the rest of his life: W.H. Rivers, the famous neurologist/psychologist/anthropologist whose job was to get Sherston to abandon his antiwar stance and return to the front. Once Sherston agrees, however, he finds himself not back in France but in mutinous Ireland, engaged in sophomoric shenanigans with other former patients of Rivers' which harken back to the more innocent first novel. The shadow of the war is long, however, and following a colorful and beautifully-written sojourn to Palestine, Sherston ends up in heavy combat once more in his old Gaullic stomping-grounds, is wounded once more under the most ironic circumstances imaginable, and returns to England, a man who has perhaps finally come to terms with everything in his life, including, it seems, the fact that the England he fought to preserve is now as dead as many of his former comrades in arms.
I definitely enjoyed SHERSTON'S PROGRESS -- especially the Palestinian passages, which feature some of his finest descriptive prose -- but I did think the novel, like the others, suffered from Sassoon's overly powerful sense of self-control. He writes everything, from battle to travelogue, in the same sedate, measured style, with the result that the entire novel never leaves its initial gear. Though it is as occasionally evocative as FOX-HUNTING MAN, which was an amazing if slow-paced reconstruction of Edwardian England at the height of its lovely, decadent silliness, it is also a description of a world which is palpably less attractive: a world of mental hospitals, backwater garrisons full of recuperating men, crowded troop ships, snobbish staff officers and muddy trenches. War is of course an interesting subject in and of itself, but oddly enough, it is perhaps not the best subject for Sassoon, because of his oddly cool-blooded perspective of the world. We read about his anger at the waste, stupidity and insanity of his surroundings, yet there is no sense of passion in these paragraphs. Sherston's anger is intellectual, not emotional, and I began to wonder in this third volume if perhaps he hadn't gone to war to experience that emotion for himself after an incredibly shallow youth centered around nothing but horse races and fox hunts. The English, particularly in Sassoon's day, were notorious for their stiff upper lips and calm demeanor in the face of adversity, but as George Orwell once pointed out, a mask can twist the face that wears it, and it may be that the mask of haughty indolence worn by the young man could not be removed. A reviewer of this novel claimed that it was nothing more than an Englishman trying to rise above his own Englishness -- and failing -- and that seems rather accurate.
It's interesting to note that just a year after the war began, Sassoon -- not Sherston but the actual Sassoon -- famously wrote, "I want a genuine taste of the horrors, and then – peace. I don’t want to go back to the old inane life which always seemed like a prison. I want freedom, not comfort. I have seen beauty in life, in men and things ... The last fifteen months have unsealed my eyes. I have lived well and truly since the war began; now I ask that the price be required of me." In MEMOIRS OF AN INFANTRY OFFICER he paid that price and then some, but I'm not sure that he sentiment about not wanting to go back was true. I think both Siegfried Sassoon and his alter-ago George Sherston were fighting for just that -- for "Atlas buses, of the hansom cab, of sulphurous fogs, of the lazy country-house life, of the long, lovely decade of the Edwardian age" Indeed, a better epitaph for his experiences might be summed up in his own comment from MEMOIRS OF A FOX-HUNTING MAN: "I wanted the past to survive and begin again."