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368 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1975
A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what was or might be expected; an outcome cruelly, humorously, or strangely at odds with assumptions or expectations.
During the war, it was the British, rather than the French, the Americans, the Italians, the Portuguese, the Russians, or the Germans, who referred to trench raids as ‘shows’ or ‘stunts’ […] And it is English playwrights – or at least Anglo-Irish ones – like Wilde and Shaw who compose plays proclaiming at every point that they are plays.
Carrington once felt ‘a studious fit’ and sent home for some Browning. ‘At first,’ he says, ‘I was mocked in the dugout as a highbrow for reading “The Ring and the Book”, but saying nothing I waited until one of the scoffers idly picked it up. In ten minutes he was absorbed, and in three days we were fighting for turns to read it, and talking of nothing else at meals.’
This is a terrible war and I don’t suspect there is an idle British soldier in France. I wonder where it will end; one hears so much. There has been more fighting and loss of life crowded into seven weeks than there was in the whole of South Africa. It is awful what the Brigade of Guards have lost and being like one big regiment one knows everyone and feels it all the more
The last two days have been ghastly. The Germans broke through the line. We have lost ten officers in the last two days and yesterday the battalion was less than 200 men, though I expect some stragglers will turn up. All the officers in my company were lost except myself. We have had no rest at all. Everyone is very shaken.
…a generation of innocent young men, their heads full of high abstractions like Honour, Glory and England, went off to war to make the world safe for democracy. They were slaughtered in stupid battles planned by stupid generals. Those who survived were shocked, disillusioned and embittered by their war experiences, and saw that their real enemies were not the Germans, but the old men at home who had lied to them. They rejected the values of the society that had sent them to war, and in doing so separated their own generation from the past and from their cultural inheritance.