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George Meredith: Think war the finest subject for poets?


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

British writers on peace and war

George Meredith: Selections on peace and war


George Meredith
From Diana of the Crossways

‘Think war the finest subject for poets?’ he exclaimed. ‘Flatly no: I don’t think it. I think exactly the reverse. It brings out the noblest traits in human character? I won’t own that even. It brings out some but under excitement, when you have not always the real man. – Pray don’t sneer at domestic life. Well, there was a suspicion of disdain. – Yes, I can respect the hero, military or civil; with this distinction, that the military hero aims at personal reward -‘


‘We are a few centuries in advance of Homer. We do not slay damsels for a sacrifice to propitiate celestial wrath; nor do we revel in details of slaughter.’


He beheld her quietly selecting the position of dignity to suit her: an eminent military man, or statesman, or wealthy nobleman: she had but to choose. A war would offer her the decorated soldier she wanted. A war! Such are women of this kind! The thought revolted him….

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