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Linklater, Eric

war angelo novels satirical

(British, 1899–1974)

Linklater wrote over twenty novels, plus histories, poetry, radio plays, autobiography, and journalism. His fiction is entertaining, serious, and difficult to categorize; inevitably therefore he is underrated critically. Born in Wales but brought up in the Orkneys (where a number of his novels are set), Linklater read medicine at Aberdeen before serving as a sniper in the First World War. Juan in America (1931), the picaresque and satirical adventures of an innocent abroad, brought him fame, but his critical reputation is probably best defended with Private Angelo (1946), based on his experiences as a war correspondent in Italy during the Second World War. Angelo is a deserter from the Italian Army, whose struggle to avoid battle only embroils him further in it. As a good-natured satire on the brutal absurdities of war Private Angelo is strongly reminiscent of Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk but Linklater's writing is more lyrical and sentimental, losing in satirical edge what it gains in humanity.

Jaroslav Hašek, Evelyn Waugh, H. E. Bates  MH

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