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Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man

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Some books have showed me the future, others have taken me back in the past, while others have enabled me to cope with the present. One of the most feeling, though still poignantly understated, episodes is when Sherston loses a friend he had only met after enlisting and with whom he had managed to get posted to the same battalion: Once the chaplain’s words were obliterated by a prolonged burst of machine-gun fire; when he had finished a trench-mortar ‘cannister’ fell a few hundred yards away, spouting the earth up with a crash. It portrays a way of life at the turn of the 20th century which was a golden era for Britian's middle and upper classes. It is a semi-autobiographical novel that tells one man's experience at the end of England's Edwardian summer. It won both the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, being immediately recognised as a classic of English literature.

He has genuine affection for what he depicts and sufficient awareness to know he and it are a bit ridiculous. And that exploitation of courage, if I may be allowed to say a thing so obvious, was the essential tragedy of the War, which, as everyone now agrees, was a crime against humanity. However, the book draws heavily on his pre-war life, with riding and hunting being among the favourite pastimes of the author. The title is somewhat misleading, as the book is mainly concerned with a series of landmark events in Sherston/Sassoon's childhood and youth, and his encounters with various comic characters. Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man is Sassoon's semi-autobiographical account of his early years in Kent and the beginning of the First World War.Original publisher's white cloth with black lettering, and red and black decorations, in pictorial dustwrapper.

When I was at high school in the 1970s his anti-war poems, and those of Wilfred Owen, featured prominently in our English lessons, a fashion that seems to have passed. Previous owner's inscription (To Mike, Welcome Home) on front free end paper with some blotting to inside cover. It's a fascinating record of lost language and standards of behaviour and politeness, expectation and strictly defined class boundaries. An uncommonly handsome set of Sassoon's celebrated World War I trilogy, one of the great classics of English literature (Fox-Hunting Man was awarded both the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Prize).

Text block itself is in lovely condition and, aside from darkening to top edge and extremely subtle foxing near unnoticeable to front free endpaper, pages are free of any forms of marking. One of the most obvious symptoms of this ambivalence about the new world is Sassoon's dislike of modernism in literature.

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