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Follow-ups to Recent Posts

By Praymont

No book has sent me to a dictionary more often than Blunden's Undertones of War, and some of the terms in that work can't be found in recent dictionaries. Case in point: 'Ephydriad'. While describing a withdrawal from the Somme, Blunden says that his unit is 'not the same "we" who in the golden dusty summer tramped down into the verdant valley, even then a haunt of every leafy spirit and the blue-eyed ephydriads, now Nature’s slimy wound with spikes of blackened bone'. This is one of the many examples in Blunden's book of subverted pastoral (about which Paul Fussell wrote), or, in the more Tolkienesque terms of my previous post, of a leafy shire deadened and transformed into a 'Dead Marshes'. But where did Blunden dig up that word 'ephydriad'? In Leigh Hunt's poetry. Blunden wrote Hunt's biography, and Hunt wrote a poem called 'The Ephydriads'.
In my post on books about WW1 by Canadian veterans of that war, I noted that Ford Madox Ford wrote a 'note by way of a Preface' for Peregrine Acland's All Else is Folly (1929). Ford there describes a strange 1920's conception of what the war was like. He says that 'many imagine that the late struggle was for those engaged in it a perpetual picnic varied with sexual jamborees' (emphasis added). It seems incredible that anyone could have thought of WW1 in that fashion, but I guess it was just such ignorance that the literature of disillusion was meant to combat. As to why Ford's contribution to Acland's book was not called simply a Preface, the reason must be that the published version of Acland's novel is not the version that Ford read. Acland says so in a note that follows Ford's piece. While Ford liked the novel, he apparently didn't like it enough to re-read it after Acland's last batch of revisions.
In that same post on WW1 books, I referred to Philip Child's novel God's Sparrows (1937). Apparently, the CBC aired a ½-hour drama based on that novel on November 12, 1970. It was produced by David Peddie, directed by Peter Carter, and starred Donnelly Rhodes and Tim Henry. This TV show was part of a series called Theatre Canada: Canadian Short Stories, other episodes of which were based on the work of Morley Callaghan and Alice Munro. Ah, the good old days.
In my post on May Sinclair, I referred to Mary Augusta Ward's novel Robert Elsmere. I learned from Siris that Miriam Burstein has just released a new, annotated edition of Ward's novel.  

Follow-ups to recent posts

Canadian Headquarters Staff (1918) Sir William Nicholson

'The great discovery of the exhibition is Nicholson's 8ft-high group portrait of The Canadian Headquarters Staff showing the officers standing in front of a giant photograph of the bombed-out shell of the Medieval Cloth Hall at Ypres.'

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