Monday, November 05, 2018

Angry annotations …

… Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More than half the annotations were by Blunden, who began by noting on the first page that Graves’s specified “objects” in writing were “all selfish”. This still left Sassoon ample room to add his own comments, but it was clearly not enough to satisfy him, who had become obsessional on the subject. He remained sufficiently aggrieved to make copious comments on a further eighty-five pages of his personal copy, continuing to correct the factual errors which had so enraged him when he first read Blunden’s copy. Some of these are significant. When in chapter 15, for example, Graves claims that a colonel with “a slight wound” on his hand “joined the stream of wounded and was carried to the base with it”, Sassoon appears fully justified in commenting: “a libel, he was hit on the head as well”. But on the whole the effect of this constant factual correction is to make Sassoon seem pedantic and petty. Are most readers really going to care if Graves dates his Quartermaster Joe Cottrill’s award of the DSO to 1916 rather than 1917, or if there are slight inaccuracies of transcription in an extract from the poet John Skelton?

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