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Memoirs of an Infantry Officer

Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Sherston's Progress

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: McTeague to Nancy [Freeman] Mitford Biography

the second part of Siegfried Sassoon's quasi-autobiographical ‘Sherston Trilogy’; published in 1930, it followed Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man (1928) and preceded Sherston's Progress (1936). The books offer a selective and lightly fictionalized version of the period between Sassoon's infancy and the years immediately after the First World War; other aspects of his earlier life are dealt with in the straightforwardly autobiographical The Old Century and Seven More Years (1938), The Weald of Youth (1942), and Siegfried's Journey (1945). Memoirs of an Infantry Officer begins on the Western Front in 1916, the point at which Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man ends. Sherston's progress towards moral responsibility, fuller social awareness, and personal maturity continues towards ‘Independent Action’, the title of the last of the ten parts; an account is given of Sassoon's actions and their consequences when he issued ‘A Soldier's Declaration’ in 1917 to protest against the prolongation of the war. Although Sherston's attitudes to the war change radically in the course of Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, the development from uneasy idealism to angry disillusionment is gradual and not emphasized for dramatic effect; Sherston's feelings are thoroughly integrated into the highly detailed view of the life of a young subaltern, presented in the companionable tone generated by Sassoon's fluently modulated prose. The book is regarded as Sassoon's greatest success and forms, in George Fraser's words, ‘the classic personal account of the First World War in English’.

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