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Edmund Gosse: War and the brutalities of the real thing

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Siegfried Sassoon: Selections on war

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Edmund Gosse
From Mr. Sassoon’s Satires (1927)

The time has even now hardly come when we can speak of the War with calm, or even consider its aspects without repugnance. But these poems of Mr. Sassoon’s were received with more than reluctance, even with a kind of disgust. The shouting was over, the laurels were cut, but people at home were still unwilling to recognise the brutalities of the real thing. In France, M. Barbusse startled everybody with his dreadful book “Le Feu”; here though much less sensation was caused by the less violent poems of Mr. Sassoon, the movement was identical; it was an unwilling transition from a pink world to a black one, from illusion to reality…

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