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Survivors' Songs


  • Page extent: 240 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.33 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521727891)

From Homer to Heaney, the voices of men and women have seldom been more piercing, more poignant, than in time of conflict. For fifty years, Jon Stallworthy has been attuned to such voices. In Survivors' Songs he explores a series of poetic encounters with war, with essays on Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and others. Beautifully written, this moving book sets the poetry and prose of the First World War and its aftermath in the wider context of writing about warfare from prehistoric Troy to Anglo-Saxon England; from Agincourt to Flanders; from El Alamein to Vietnam; from the wars of yesterday to the wars of tomorrow.

• An important new work from one of the best-known scholars of First World War poetry • Beautifully written, with much to interest the general reader • Includes readings of First World War poets in the context of war writing across the ages


1. The death of the hero; 2. Survivors' songs; 3. England's epic?; 4. Who was Rupert Brooke?; 5. Christ and the soldier; 6. Owen's afterlife; 7. Owen and his editors; 8. The legacy of the Somme; 9. The iconography of the waste land; 10. War and peace; 11. The fire from heaven; 12. Henry Reed and the great good place; 13. The fury and the mire; Index.


'Jon Stallworthy writes with absolute authority about war literature from Aneirin to Owen and beyond. That historical reach is complemented by the precision of his close readings as he detects ancient ideas of chivalry at the Somme or the Battle of Britain. Stallworthy's passionate and authoritative survey deserves to become essential reading for anyone who cares to explore the No Man's Land where art and violence collide.' Tim Kendall, University of Exeter

'Conceived as 'thank-you letters' to 'absent friends', Survivors' Songs is suffused with the humanity, learning and beauties of insight that come from Jon Stallworthy's life-long engagement with the literature of war as critic, biographer and poet. Immensely subtle and moving, this book will carry forward to future generations the voices - Hardy, Yeats, Owen, Auden, to name a few - it celebrates and mourns so lyrically.' Santanu Das, Queen Mary, University of London

'The essays are all delightfully and cleverly written, and so I urge you quickly to go to your book shop, your library or your friend with a copy and read Survivors' Songs and let Jon Stallworthy sing to you.' Wilfred Owen Association Journal

'Survivors' Songs is a testament to Stallworthy's abiding scholarly interest in both love and war as perennial subjects of poetry.' Eleanor Spencer, Notes and Queries

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