Look Inside Reading Guide. Reading Guide. After a rash of casualties leads to his promotion through the ranks, he grows increasingly cynical about the war and disillusioned by the hypocrisies of British society. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. Richard Aldington was a founding poet of the Imagist movement and a novelist who conveyed the horror of war through his written works such as Death of a Hero. He was also known for his work as a translator,… More about Richard Aldington.
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Death of a Hero by Richard Aldington ,. Chrisopher Ridgway Introduction. First published in , Death of a Hero was described by its author as both a jazz novel and a memorial to a generation. The hero is George Winterbourne. Leaving the Edwardian gloom of his embattled parents behind him, George escapes to Soho, which buzzes, on the eve of war, with talk of politics, pacifism and free love. He paints, he marries, he takes a mistress: the per First published in , Death of a Hero was described by its author as both a jazz novel and a memorial to a generation.
He paints, he marries, he takes a mistress: the perfect hero of his time, whose destiny -- like all those of that lost generation -- is the bloody nightmare of the trenches. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published by Hogarth Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Death of a Hero , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Death of a Hero. I initially bought this book when I realised what a big trauma WWI was for the Brits and wanted to learn more about it.
Like most people in the world, I learnt history at school, and it was the usual, jingoistic and egocentric version of it that schoolchildren all over the world are subjected to. In Poland, WWI is glossed over but for its one, most important aspect, and that is the return of Polish independence.
For us, of course it is all about WWII. It is, apparently, not a novel at all. Certain conventions of form and method in the novel have been erected, I gather, into immutable laws, and are looked upon with quite superstitious reverence.
They are entirely disregarded here. To me the excuse for the novel is that one can do any damn thing one pleases. Even though it seems like the novel has a beginning, middle and end, it really feels like three different novels carelessly stitched together that differ in style and tone. Finally, Aldington includes the main spoiler in the very title of the book, as well as its prologue. Yes, the main character, George Winterbourne, dies.
That innocence was never there. As powerful as I expected. View all 3 comments. May 17, Douglas rated it it was amazing. This book initially came into my hands when I was fifteen years old, and found, by chance, the first unexpurgated edition in a bookstore in Paris.
For decades it was censored in England on account of the sheer venom that Aldington brought to his depiction of pre-World War One British society, and of the war itself as conducted by the British High Command. The novel tells the story of George Winterbourne as in Winter-born , a young modernist British painter who before the war lives marginally in This book initially came into my hands when I was fifteen years old, and found, by chance, the first unexpurgated edition in a bookstore in Paris.
With the coming of war, he on principle joins up as an enlisted man, though his education would entitle him to become an officer. Eventually, the sheer attrition rate of officers obliges him to become one.
The novel graphically and eloquently depicts both the hypocrisies of British pre-War society, and the horrors and follies of the War itself. While it was censored in Britain, it became very popular in the Soviet Union: ironically, given that Aldington considered himself an anti-communist. As I was living in France at the time, this book more than any other I can think of helped me to get a sense of the extremity of horror and societal upheaval that lay behind the vast and silent cemeteries of Verdun, the Somme, and Ypres, and that had helped shape the twentieth century.
Nov 02, Dan rated it it was amazing Shelves: wwi. A largely autobiographical novel about a British soldier, George Winterbourne, and his experiences in WW1 as an infantryman and then an officer. The novel is broken into thirds. In the middle of the novel we see George strike out on his own to London as an author and then marry a young woman named El A largely autobiographical novel about a British soldier, George Winterbourne, and his experiences in WW1 as an infantryman and then an officer.
In the middle of the novel we see George strike out on his own to London as an author and then marry a young woman named Elizabeth. George and Elizabeth end up in an open marriage and each take different lovers that makes for some unique situations. The writing style used by Aldington is a mix of beautifully poetic paragraphs interspersed with realism and its shocking descriptions of trench warfare. At times there is very choppy dialogue.
Aldington was a poet so this may explain the lack of continuity between sentences and his reluctance to use many conjunctions to extend sentences. So the novel is a little quirky but so authentic in disposing of and railing at many of the Victorian sentiments seen in novels just a decade or so earlier.
This novel was banned on its publication in because of vulgar language, sexual dalliances and graphic descriptions of trench warfare. There is probably little in this novel that would be objectionable to a teenager today. Aldington is an excellent narrator although the dialogue is pretty average. Here is an example of his views in a wonderful prologue. Foddershire Regt. Winterbourne had rather hoped he would be killed, and knew that his premature demise in the middle twenties would be borne with easy stoicism by those who survived him.
But his vanity would have been a little shocked by what actually happened. View 2 comments. May 07, Elliott rated it it was amazing Shelves: the-lost-generation. Most World War 1 literature in popular culture seems to begin and end with All Quiet on the Western Front, which I hesitate to refer to as "overrated. Remarque concentrates on a group: Paul Baumer's friends are Most World War 1 literature in popular culture seems to begin and end with All Quiet on the Western Front, which I hesitate to refer to as "overrated.
Remarque concentrates on a group: Paul Baumer's friends are picked off until there's just Paul, and then he too is claimed by the war at the very end of the novel.
The tragedy being that Baumer's death as with his comrades is just so common that it doesn't even warrant mention in the reports of the day: everything is merely "all quiet. Remarque obviously wants the reader to imagine themselves within the same situation.
Remarque goes for empathy. The problem is that where Remarque has his group of characters go from close friends doing very unmilitary things together: chasing girls, hanging around town, so on and so forth, there is a time before when getting together with a group of your closest friends to fight and kill other groups of close friends was not even a remote thought.
He has few close friends, he has romantic partners sure enough, but he is not really attached to people. He easily acquires and loses many people with only passing notice. His father is a bit of a Quixote character who simply exists on a separate plane of existence from his son, while his mother rather likes the consecutive ideas of: a son; a son in the army serving his country; and a dead son having served his country. That relationship cuts to the heart of the book, and the difference between Remarque and Aldington.
Remarque would fully acknowledge that this group of youth he portrays are used as tools, but his focus is on the breaks between individuals that this war causes, the loss of life as national tragedy, that is his focus. Aldington is not interested in this. His focus is that on how the individual is used, how the individual progresses from body to corpse, and corpse to memory. George was not important for any social reasons, George was important because he was a soldier pointing his gun in the correct direction.
His death is important because it goes back to and help props up that authority which sent him there in the first place. You can see this with the banality of the corpses in the final scenes-they are at best obstacles in ones path whether they are French or German is immaterial.
It is a numbers crunch. Again, this is something that Remarque would no doubt totally agree with, but since his focus is elsewhere it is not fleshed out nearly so well. This is a book of contrasts. The title and start of the novel tells the reader that the central character, George Winterbourne is a soldier in the First World War, killed a week before the signing of the armistice.
Death of a Hero Reader’s Guide
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Analysis of the novel Richard Aldington Death of a Hero
Aldington, a cofounder of the Imagist movement in poetry, served more than two years in the British Army during the war, rising to the rank of captain. He was therefore eminently qualified to write Death of a Hero , a stark chronicle of social disintegration and apocalyptic violence that some consider the greatest of all novels about the Great War. Although Death of a Hero ranks among the most potent pieces of antiwar fiction ever published, it is so much more than that. Bitterly recollecting the bourgeois complacency, hypocrisy, and ill—founded patriotism of the nation in which he spent his youth, Aldington mounts a scalding critique of prewar social values—values that, he suggests, were not swept aside by the war but actually helped to make the global catastrophe inevitable.
Death of a Hero
Some characteristic features of his style can be defined. The subtle lyricism, the rich imagery, the musical rhythm of the description turn the landscape into a passionate rhapsody. There are masterly touches in rich and vivid epithets, which are combined with metaphors. The richness of imagery is developed in effective similes. The alliterations make the text particularly musical.
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