Based on the author’s experiences on the Western Front, Richard Aldington’s first novel, Death of a Hero, finally joins the ranks of Penguin. Death of a Hero has ratings and 40 reviews. Douglas said: This book initially came into my hands when I was fifteen years old, and found, by chance. Death of a Hero: Richard Aldington: best and best known novel, Death of a Hero (), to which All Men Are Enemies () was a sequel, reflected the.
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Death of a Hero by Richard Aldington | : Books
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Death of a Hero | work by Aldington |
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Time to Say Goodbye 3 years ago. Death of a Aldinngton was published in but despite the time lag is very much a product of the First World War, in which Aldington fought, was wounded, and became recognised as a war poet.
Incidentally, the distinction of becoming acknowledged both aldinghon a novelist and as a poet is a rare one. One thinks of Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy and Lawrence Durrell with whom Aldington would conduct a famous literary correspondence later in lifebut the list is a short one.
Death of a Hero was highly commended many years after its publication by Durrell, and while one has to be careful about this since Durrell was being sycophantic and could lay flattery on with a trowel when he felt like it, his judgement is sound. It has a fair claim to being the first truly modernist novel of the twentieth century, though To The Lighthouse was published inWomen in Love was written if the First World War itself, and The Longest Journey as early as Despite the chronological order of these novels, however, there is a quality that sets Aldington apart from either Woolf, Lawrence or Forster.
Woolf was concerned with the technical aspects of novel writing, most famously her use of fo stream of consciousness technique, and with dissecting the psychological motivations of her characters.
Lawrence was concerned, at least partly, with portraying aodington sexual aspects of human relationships, both actual and repressed. Aldington does not bother with these niceties but dives straight into describing sexual relationships as they actually occur, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions.
There is not the same analysis aldinyton the characters as occurs in The Rainbow and Women in Love. Here, the story is told and that is that.
Death of a Hero Reader’s Guide
Aldingtkn, the lack of sexual analysis did not save Death of a Hero from the attentions of the censor, and substantial cuts had to be made before publication. Forster was of course seath completely different sort of writer, one who liked to make his points by wry observation much in the way of Jane Austen or E.
Benson, and it is probably no coincidence that both he and Benson were gay; there is the same deliciously camp flavour about both their prose styles. While some might take issue with this, one deagh argue that what he wrote were essentially novels of manners.
Again, Aldington had little time for this. He tells us bluntly what happens and leaves the question of any judgement of the characters to the reader. He is not playing around with technical fireworks, or trying to impress with florid prose, but telling a story acted out by deftly crafted characters.
Death of a Hero
The story such as it is may be quickly told, though I am deliberately not going to give away the ending of the book save to say that it foreshadows a novel of the second war by Sartre. Had he read Aldington, I wonder? George Winterbourne is brought up in a seemingly conventional middle class family, though his mother has a string of affairs. Moving to London, he begins a thoroughly modern relationship with Elizabeth; both agree that they should be free to take other lovers.
Eventually marriage results, again with the same agreement as to an open relationship. Things go awry, however, when Elizabeth discovers that on the nights she is spending with her lover of the moment, George is making love to her best friend.
What is sauce for the goose, it transpires, is not sauce for the gander. The final section of the book can best be described by saying simply that the First World War intervenes and George goes off to fight in France. Though Aldington never stoops to judgmental passages, we are clearly meant to see Elizabeth as an unattractive character.
She reminded me of various characters drawn by a similarly neglected English novelist, Patrick Hamilton, some of whose women are almost unbearably awful and some of the men, in fairness, almost unbearably weak.
I think the clue to the real meaning of the book lies in its title, however. For me, Aldington is saying that after the horrors of the war it is no longer possible even to ladington up a pretence of the possibility of any sort of heroic or principled existence.
There are clear auto-biographical elements here as Aldington was not only wounded physically during the war but also suffered for many years from the after effects of shell shock; perhaps that is why it took him so long to write this book, which he openly admitted was based partly aldintton his own experiences of a decade before. A more complex character would probably have quickly worked out that this was no more than a defence mechanism to the horrors being witnessed on a daily basis, but George is not a complex character; he is one who says what he feels and expects others to do the same.
Elizabeth is almost exactly the opposite so it is perhaps inevitable that their relationship is doomed from the outset. She speaks in euphemisms and expects others to understand what she only hints at.
She espouses sexual freedom but does not expect her husband actually to practise it, and certainly not with her best friend. Aldington would write other novels, most notably Rejected Guest inbut none would have the directness and freshness of Death of a Hero. Veath was a prolific writer of non-fiction, especially biographies and criticism, and achieved notoriety as the author of a hugely controversial revisionist biography of Lawrence of Arabia inthe vitriolic reaction s which greatly upset him.
By this time he was living in France, having left England for good inand in he herl the literary correspondence with his near neighbour and aldngton exile Lawrence Durrell that lasted until his death in and which has been published under the title Literary Lifelines.
Aldington is well overdue bero re-evaluation. According dexth no less an authority than Ezra Pound, it was Aldington and H. As well as his friendship with Pound, he was also to have close relationships with Ford Maddox Ford alias Hueffer – both he and H. That aldinvton was a fine writer there can be no doubt; his biography of Wellington won the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Yet in all his writings or all of them hwro I have read, dath any rateand particularly when he is being at his most intimate such as in the later letters to Durrell, there is a melancholic nostalgia for a world which probably never existed, or at least herk as he would have liked it to. His self-imposed exile, the reasons for which baffled his friends and which he never explained, even to Durrell, can be seen in this light. Reading between the lines, much of this may be laid at his own door; he seems to have found it difficult to sustain friendly relationships with other writers, or to come to terms with the lack of success which some of his books encountered, though much of this may well be the enduring long term after effects of shell shock, which was not in those days recognised as a disease requiring treatment, except in extreme cases, and certainly not on an ongoing basis we know that he suffered from severe headaches in later life.