Undertones of War

Hardback
Edmund Blunden (1896-1974) was one of the youngest of the war poets, enlisting straight from school to find himself in some of the Western Front's most notorious hot-spots. His prose memoir, written in a rich, allusive vein, full of anecdote and human interest, is unique for its quiet authority and for the potency of its dream-like narrative. Once we accept the archaic conventions and catch the tone-which can be by turns horrifying or hilarious-Undertones of War gradually reveals itself as a masterpiece. It is clear why it has remained in print since it first appeared in 1928. This new edition not only offers the original unrevised version of the prose narrative, written at white heat when Blunden was teaching in Japan and had no access to his notes, but provides a great deal of supplementary material never before gathered together. Blunden's 'Preliminary' expresses the lifelong compulsion he felt 'to go over the ground again' and for half a century he prepared new prefaces, added annotations. All those prefaces and a wide selection of his commentaries are included here-marginalia from friends' first editions, remarks in letters, extracts from later essays, and a substantial part of his war diary. John Greening has provided a scholarly introduction discussing the bibliographical and historical background, and brings his poet's eye to a much expanded (and more representative) selection of Blunden's war poetry. For the first time we can see the poet Blunden as the major figure he was. Blunden had always hoped for a properly illustrated edition of the work, and kept a folder full of possible pictures. The editor, with the Blunden family's help, has selected some of the best of them to include in this new edition.