The Weald of Youth

$2.75
By Siegfried Sassoon
VIKING
“IT IS with the minutiae of mortality that I am mainly occupied in this half-humorous epitome of my career,” says the author about this book; and elsewhere he describes his method of “affectionately” recounting his past experiences as he rambles meditatively in the byways of his mind, and attempts to compose an outline of his mental history. This is an admirable summing-up of Siegfried Sassoon’s particular quality as a “stereoscopic memoirizer,” and though there are occasions on which one wonders if the original spontaneity is not becoming a little staled by habit, if it is not a little too “affectionate” and too “composed,” there is plenty to compensate for those occasions.
The main topic of this volume is Sassoon’s literary career from 1909 until the outbreak of the war of 1914. It opens with his delight in the publication of a poem: “a not very exhilarating sonnet about the poet Villon when he was more down and out than usual”; takes us through his period of imitation of the minor poets of the nineties, and of that of writing “in a loosely uplifting way on outdoor subjects,” and includes an extremely comic account of his daydreams of the fame which he was to win from the publication of an anonymous parody of Masefield. What he actually won was a review in The Athenaeum which ran: “This is a pointless and weak-kneed imitation of The Everlasting Mercy. The only conclusion we obtain from its perusal is that it is easy to write worse than Mr. Masefield.”
There are accounts of his unsuccessful attempt to reach literary circles in pre-war London, in spite of his acquaintanceship with Edmund Gosse and Eddie Marsh; and it concludes with an analysis of his total unpreparedness of spirit for the war, although he enlisted in the army on the day it was declared. E. D.
D. A. DUNCAN AIRMAN
J. G. B. MAJOR JOHN GILPIN BRIGHT
W. H. C. WILLIAM HENRY CHAMBERLIN
R. E. D. RICHARD ELY DANIELSON
E. D. ELIZABETH DREW
W. F. WILSON FOLLETT
R. M. G. ROBERT M. GAY
H. A. L. HAROLD A. LARRABEE
C. C. L. CHARLES C. LUND
L. M. L. LOUIS M. LYONS
W. McF. WILLIAM Me FEE
H. R. HORACE REYNOLDS
R. DE R. DE S. RAOUL DE ROUSSY DE SALES
T. S. THEODORE SPENCER
G. F. W. GEORGE F. WHICHER
K. W. KATHERINE WOODS