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Ecome 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 Although the author tries hard to bring the meetings between the various poets to life it is onlt the well documented meeting between Sassoon and Owen at Craiglockart that really interests Although the meeting between Captain Sasson and Private Jones is fascinatingly archetypalWhat was interesting though were the thumb nail sketches of the lives of the poets after the war up until their deaths

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Strange Meetings

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 are in hospital at the same time; on to the poignant meeting between Edward Thomas's widow and Ivor Gurney in 1932; and the last strange lunch and 'longish talk' This has the feel of an enthusiast’s book written for the reader with an interest in the poets of the First World War rather than an academic text although Ricketts is a professor of English Literature In the fifteen chapters Harry Ricketts discusses actual meetings and possible meetings between poets such as Sassoon and David Jones and Ivor Gurney and Helen Thomas Edward Thomas’s widow It is a synthesis of existing information but saves the general reader from having to do all that reading in depth because Ricketts has done it for you However in places especially where I’m familiar with the subject matter it felt as if Harry Ricketts was doing no than skating over the surface So I had to guard against my tendency to dismiss the familiar on the grounds of already knowing it There were things I learned such as a meeting took place long after the war was over between Jones and Sassoon on 15th July 1964 I wasn’t at all keen on the chapter in which Ricketts invents the conversations which might have taken place between Edward Thomas and Wilfred Owen We know they were at the same training camp in Essex and it is possible that Thomas taught Owen map reading skills but did that lead to them discussing poetry? This seems rather unlikely and I wasn’t sure what purpose was served by Ricketts presenting us with these imaginary conversations between the two of them Matthew Hollis takes a far sensible approach in ‘Now All roads leads to France’ in mentioning the possibility that they met and leaving the rest to the reader to imagine The chapter “Goodbye to all that” deals with the ruckus caused by Robert Graves’s book of the same title when it was first published in November 1929 Its publication and contents were a severe blow to the wartime friendship between Sassoon and Graves It also deeply upset the mild mannered Edmund Blunden whose copy with notes scribbled in the margins is held in the Berg Collection of the New York Library I knew about the falling out between Sassoon and Graves but in less detail about Blunden’s reaction to the text In the end though I came to the conclusion that I was not really the intended audience for the book I prefer learning in depth about an individual poet such as Wilfred Owen Artemisia Gentileschi you However in places especially where I’m familiar with the subject matter it felt as if Harry Ricketts was doing no than skating over the surface So I had to guard against my tendency to dismiss the familiar on the grounds of already knowing it There were things I learned such as a meeting took place long after the war was over between Jones and Sassoon on 15th July 1964 I wasn’t at all keen on the chapter in which Ricketts invents the conversations which might have taken place between Edward Thomas and Wilfred Owen We know they were at the same training camp in Essex and it is possible that Thomas taught Owen map reading skills but did that lead to them discussing poetry? This seems rather unlikely and I wasn’t sure what purpose was served by Ricketts presenting us with these imaginary conversations between the two of them Matthew Hollis takes a far sensible approach in ‘Now All roads leads to France’ in mentioning the possibility that they met and leaving the rest to the reader to imagine The chapter “Goodbye to all that” deals with the ruckus caused by Robert Graves’s book of the same title when it was first published in November 1929 Its publication and contents were a severe blow to the wartime friendship between Sassoon and Graves It also deeply upset the mild mannered Edmund Blunden whose copy with notes scribbled in the margins is held in the Berg Collection of the New York Library I knew about the falling out between Sassoon and Graves but in less detail about Blunden’s reaction to the text In the end though I came to the conclusion that I was not really the intended audience for the book I prefer learning in depth about an individual poet such as Wilfred Owen

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Of Sassoon and David Jones in 1964 half a century after the great war beganAmong the other poets and writers we encounter are Vera Brittain Roland Leighton Robert Graves Isaac Rosenberg Robert Nichols and Edmund Blunden Ricketts's 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 b Very good chapters on different meetings some real and some imagined I hadn't realised how linked some of the Soldier Poets lives wereI know the 'War Poets' are studied extensively at school and this book would be an invaluable resourceI especially enjoyed the sections where Ricketts mused on what would have happened if some of the soldiers who had died so young on the battlefields had actually managed to escape the sniper's bullet Would they have gone on to greater things in their writings? And what if the ones who survived HAD been mown down would they be remembered than they actually are? Would an early tragic death have brought them lasting fame? Come Heal This Land young on the battlefields had actually managed to escape the sniper's bullet Would they have gone on to greater things in their writings? And what if the ones who survived HAD been mown down would they be remembered than they actually are? Would an early tragic death have brought them lasting fame?


6 thoughts on “Strange Meetings

  1. says:

    This has the feel of an enthusiast’s book written for the reader with an interest in the poets of the First World War rather than an academic text although Ricketts is a professor of English Literature In the fifteen chapters Harry Ricketts discusses actual meetings and possible meetings between poets such as Sassoon and David Jones and Ivor Gurney and Helen Thomas Edward Thomas’s widow It is a synthesis of existing information but saves the general reader from having to do all that reading in depth because Ricketts has done it for you However in places especially where I’m familiar with the subject matter it felt as if Harry Ricketts was doing no than skating over the surface So I had to guard against my tendency to dismiss the familiar on the grounds of already knowing it There were things I learned such as a meeting took place long after the war was over between Jones and Sassoon on 15th July 1964 I wasn’t at all keen on the chapter in which Ricketts invents the conversations which might have taken place between Edward Thomas and Wilfred Owen We know they were at the same training camp in Essex and it is possible that Thomas taught Owen map reading skills but did that lead to them discussing poetry? This seems rather unlikely and I wasn’t sure what purpose was served by Ricketts presenting us with these imaginary conversations between the two of them Matthew Hollis takes a far sensible approach in ‘Now All roads leads to France’ in mentioning the possibility that they met and leaving the rest to the reader to imagine The chapter “Goodbye to all that” deals with the ruckus caused by Robert Graves’s book of the same title when it was first published in November 1929 Its publication and contents were a severe blow to the wartime friendship between Sassoon and Graves It also deeply upset the mild mannered Edmund Blunden whose copy with notes scribbled in the margins is held in the Berg Collection of the New York Library I knew about the falling out between Sassoon and Graves but in less detail about Blunden’s reaction to the text In the end though I came to the conclusion that I was not really the intended audience for the book I prefer learning in depth about an individual poet such as Wilfred Owen


  2. says:

    Very good chapters on different meetings some real and some imagined I hadn't realised how linked some of the Soldier Poets lives wereI know the 'War Poets' are studied extensively at school and this book would be an invaluable resourceI especially enjoyed the sections where Ricketts mused on what would have happened if some of the soldiers who had died so young on the battlefields had actually managed to escape the sniper's bullet Would they have gone on to greater things in their writings? And what if the ones who survived HAD been mown down would they be remembered than they actually are? Would an early tragic death have brought them lasting fame?


  3. says:

    Although the author tries hard to bring the meetings between the various poets to life it is onlt the well documented meeting between Sassoon and Owen at Craiglockart that really interests Although the meeting between Captain Sasson and Private Jones is fascinatingly archetypalWhat was interesting though were the thumb nail sketches of the lives of the poets after the war up until their deaths


  4. says:

    A wonderful book in its intelligent evocation of the poets the time they lived and their literary context I hadn't fully understood the dynamics of the literature of time and the differences between the poets the way things shifted and changed for these men and a couple of women as the war rolled on I guess I felt they were travelling the same awful path with similar results I love the way Harry Ricketts imagines the various meetings of these poets whether it be in the flesh or in a book together or via a social group and shows how their work differs depending on their background or talent or influences or experience of war and how it develops or doesn't after the war finishes One feels all over again the horrors of any man going through this war as a soldier but somehow the fact of the sensitivity and intelligence of these poets makes their participation all the grotesue Harry Ricketts is a poet himself with a fluid intelligent style combined this with his passion for the time and you have a marvellous book


  5. says:

    A series of inter linked essays on actual vicarious and imagined meetings between poets of the First World War Very readable with examples of the poetry mentioned but not overdone Very interesting book


  6. says:

    What an odd little book Really interesting despite the tenuous nature of some of the 'meetings' What it did show really clearly was the close links between many of the key poets of the time and how they were all poets beforehand who developed their work as a result of their war experiences