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Writing Life: Early Twentieth-Century Autobiographies of the Artist-Hero$
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Mhairi Pooler

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381977

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781781381977.001.0001

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A Twofold Experiment with Time

A Twofold Experiment with Time

Siegfried Sassoon’s The Old Century, The Weald of Youth and Siegfried’s Journey

Chapter:
(p.109) Chapter 4 A Twofold Experiment with Time
Source:
Writing Life: Early Twentieth-Century Autobiographies of the Artist-Hero
Author(s):

Mhairi Pooler

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781781381977.003.0005

Chapter 4 examines how Siegfried Sassoon’s deeply entrenched divided self formally and thematically shapes his autobiographical trilogy as a poet’s journey from Romanticism to Modernism. The second prose trilogy by Sassoon is ‘the story of my effort to become a famous poet’. Although more explicitly Wordsworthian than James, Sassoon’s final undercutting of the Künstlerroman form in his so-called ‘straight autobiography’ is also more drastic, revealing the impact of war on artistic identity. The chapter discusses Sassoon’s self-theorising throughout the texts and his desire to write himself into something more than a soldier poet, which these texts achieve with ease. The chapter concludes that much like poetry, the structure of the text embodies equal meaning to the words, so that Sassoon’s ‘factual’ prose works invite literary interpretation and even poetic comparisons.

Keywords:   Siegfried Sassoon, Divided self, First World War, Great War, Soldier Poet

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