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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Return of the Solider (1918) by Rebecca West

World War I was not fun.

Book Review
The Return of the Solider (1918)
 by Rebecca West

  Sometimes I just want to cut and paste two or three paragraphs from the Wikipedia entry for the book I've just read and just say "hey- this pretty much sums it up, y'all."  Lately I'm preoccupied by the prospect that I'm getting close enough to the present for copyright protections to kick in.  Today I was sitting in federal court and actually thought "What about the library!"  Just trying to give some insight into my thought process.  Then I went onto my phone to look up Raymond Roussel- who has two VERY expensive books on the 1001 Books list- and they didn't have it in the catalog for the San Diego library.  And THEN going waaaaay back I was like, "WAIT- what about interlibrary loan."  So yeah, that's what I've got going on over here.

  The Return of the Solider was Rebecca West's first Novel (Novella?) and was the "only book about World War I written by a woman during World War I." (Thanks wikipedia!)  The story concerns an upper class gentleman who gets shell shock and ends up with amnesia- partial amnesia- specifically he can't remember the last 15 years of his life, including marrying his airhead upper class wife and their dead son.  Instead, he remembers being in love with a working class woman who has sine married.

  Many mid century critics were unkind to The Return of the Soldier because West engages in clumsy Freudian-ism but since we now know that Freudian-ism is a crock of shit across the board it is hard to hold that against her.  It's interesting to see Freud creep into the novel in the 1910-1920 period.  I'm assuming it will reach crescendo status in the 20s. EXCITED TO FIND OUT!


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