Vivien Whelpton’s new biography, Richard Aldington: Poet, Soldier, Lover
1911–29 is now available from the Lutterworth
Press (CTRL+click links). Sample chapters are available on the publisher’s
website. The book promises to be a major contribution to rethinking
Aldington’s life and work sympathetically. Twenty-five years after the last
biography, Aldington’s position in the ever-expanding modernist networks is
riper than ever for reconsideration.
Whelpton invites readers of the NCLSN to write to the editors with their responses to
the volume; she hopes that it might provoke some debate for these pages. You
can also contact her directly via her website, http://www.vivienwhelpton.co.uk/.
Ever a man of the moment, Richard Aldington
now has a presence on social media.
International Richard Aldington Society / Imagist Conference now has a
Facebook page, which you should follow for updates on this summer’s meeting in
Venice and, presumably, future activities of the society.
Some Aldingtonians have set up a Twitter
account for Richard Aldington: you can follow him @AldingtonR. He tweets about
his writings, those who write about him and fellow early twentieth-century
authors, along with other observations and trouvailles.
In these Internet / Kindle days
Correspondent David Wilkinson has been mulling over the following extract from
page 241 of the 1968, Cassell edition of Aldington's autobiography, Life For
Life's Sake. The passage was first published in 1941.
In Perfect State,
which, perhaps fortunately, we shall never see, the literature of the world
will not be scattered about in bulky and costly editions or ignominious hacked-off
impressions. Everything non-copyright and worth reading will be contained in a
kind of Opera Omnia in volumes of about a thousand pages of India paper,
costing no more than a new novel, like the Nonesuch poets in England and the
Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in France. You will then be able to house all the
literature of the world in a small apartment. All these people who don't buy
books because they've nowhere to put them will be instantly defeated, and
culture will reign from China to Peru.
- - - - and a happy new year to all
The Editor notes that there are a couple of
references to Richard Aldington in Jonathan Wild’s The Rise of the Office
Clerk in Literary Culture, 1880-1939 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Wild
looks beyond the usual Aldingtonian texts to talk about A Fool i’ th’ Forest
and ‘The Case of Lieutenant Hall’.
Given the expurgation of Death of a Hero
and its consequent notoriety, the Editor was surprised to note that RA is not
mentioned at all in Rachel Potter’s new volume, Obscene Modernism: Literary
Censorship and Experiment, 1900-1940 (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Rollyson’s A Higher Form of Cannibalism: Adventures in the Art and Politics
of Biography (Ivan R. Dee, 2005) includes a chapter on RA’s biography of T.
E. Lawrence. Rollyson has also written extensively about other modernists and
imagists such as Rebecca West and Amy Lowell.
Zilboorg pointed the Editor towards articles about the controversy which is
already being provoked in the UK as the centenary of the outbreak of the First
World War approaches. The trenchant comments of the Education Secretary,
Michael Gove, precipitated a strong response from Richard Evans, Regius
Professor of History at the University of Cambridge in this
piece for the Guardian, and many more historians who took issue with
the narrow view of the war and its causes put forth by Gove. There was a
similar response from those wedded to a notion of the First World War focused
on futility and pity, which narrative recent histories such as Gary Sheffield’s
Forgotten Victory: The First World War: Myths and Realities (Headline
Review, 2002) and Dan Todman’s The Great War: Myth and Memory
(Continuum, 2005) problematise. The fighting for ownership of historical
narratives promises to continue, as this
piece by Daniel Boffey of the Observer suggests.
very good contribution to this debate which, one hopes, will set the tone, is
the new BBC series Britain’s Great War, presented by Jeremy Paxman.
Whilst there were some errors and incongruous moments, the first programme
showed a commendable commitment to a pluralistic version of history,
highlighting the varieties of experience on the home front and challenging some
long-established but questionable myths about the war.
Member Gemma Bristow has recently made available online a conference paper she
gave in 2008 on Aldington’s The Love Poems of Myrrhine and Konallis,
which sees the volume as ‘a reworking of material from the existing canons of
Hellenic and pseudo-Hellenic, particularly Sapphic, literature’ and also ‘a
masked response to the Great War: a fantasy of an Arcadian otherworld in which
relationships and gender did not have to fulfil social utility’. You can read
the full paper at Gemma’s website: http://www.helical-library.net/writing/aldington-myrrhine-konallis.asp
Editor, Andrew Frayn, has a literary-critical monograph forthcoming in 2014.
Entitled Writing Disenchantment: British First World War Prose, 1914-1930
(Manchester University Press), the book examines the idea that fiction about
the war was ‘disenchanted’, or ‘disillusioned’. This concept is interrogated
in terms of early twentieth-century theories of decline, decay and
degeneration, and a variety of popular, middlebrow and literary texts are analysed.
Aldington features strongly in the final chapter on the War Books Boom of
1928-1930, particularly Death of a Hero; of Aldington’s literary
network, also discussed at some length are Ford Madox Ford, D. H. Lawrence,
details can be found in the
Manchester University Press catalogue for 2014 (see p. 29).
Correspondent Caroline Zilboorg notes a review of her
University Press of Florida edition of H. D.’s Bid Me to Live which, of
course, is a thinly-fictionalised account of wartime events in London and
Cornwall with RA.
In the Modern Language Review (vol. 109, no. 1
(January 2014), 243-5) Alice Kelly states that ‘Bid
Me to Live demonstrates an avant-garde mode of
writing about the Great War, depicting the experience of non-combatants.
Zilboorg’s excellent critical edition will help to introduce this fascinating,
much underrated modernist text to a new readership.’ Kelly compliments Zilboorg’s work as a ‘much-needed and
very well-executed new edition of this important text’.
Wilkinson reports that a number of RA's novels can be accessed and their
contents searched for particular quotations via Google Books. The one exception is Death
of a Hero. This causes Wilkinson to ponder the fuss that is made over
Editor adds that many of RA’s early works are available via the Internet Archive. Works prior to 1922 are in
the public domain in the US, so RA’s first collections of poetry, including
limited editions such as the Images of War for Beaumont, with
illustrations by Paul Nash, are easily accessible. A search for Aldington’s
name also brings up less-well-known volumes to which he contributed, such as Some
Soldier Poets (1920), edited by T. Sturge Moore.
can also access much of Aldington’s periodical work via invaluable resources
such as the Modernist Journals
Project website, hosted by Brown
University. There are runs of The New Age, in which Aldington’s
‘Letters from Italy’ feature in 1913, The Freewoman, The New Freewoman,
and The Egoist, to which Aldington was a key contributor, Poetry,
and many other interesting volumes such as Wyndham Lewis’s Blast and The
Member Robert Richardson has work in the exhibition ‘The Postcard is a Public Work of
Art’, which runs at X Marks the Bökship, Unit 3, 210 Cambridge Heath Road,
London. The official announcement posits that the ‘purpose of an artist's a
postcard is to express an idea, aesthetic and intellectual, specifically and
exclusively in the form of a postcard, that could be actually postable, even
when made of wood, or bone, or steel. The exhibits are not merely
postcard-sized paintings, but instead they engage individually with the form
and purpose of the postcard.’ The exhibition runs from 23 January to 1 March
books on Imagism have recently been published. The first, entitled, Imagism:
Essays on Its Initiation, Impact and Influence, was published by the
University of New Orleans Press as the fifth entry in the Ezra Pound Center for
Literature Book Series. John Gery, Daniel Kempton, and H.R. Stoneback edited
the volume and the description of the book offered in the official press
collection of new essays explores the well-known yet rarely investigated
movement of Imagist poets and poetics. Launched in the British Museum tearoom
by Ezra Pound with H.D. and Richard Aldington in April 1912, Imagism was rooted
in earlier movements, yet its influence has reached across the literary world.
Framed by an Introduction on Imagism’s embattled cultural heritage and an
Afterword recording its echoes as far off as China, this book offers a
blueprint of the historical, theoretical, and literary prevalence of Imagism
from its inception until now.
The volume features an introduction by the distinguished scholar of Imagism
Helen Carr, and twelve essays on Pound’s early years, his impact and
influence. There are essays by Associate Editor Justin Kishbaugh, editor of
Aldington’s letters Ian S. MacNiven, and NCLS member and Ford Madox Ford
scholar Max Saunders, among many other contributors who will be familiar to
attendees of Aldington conferences and readers of previous proceedings.
Also recently released is Florida
English’s special issue, Ghosts in Background Moving: Aldington and
Imagism. Edited by Daniel Kempton, Matthew Nickel, and H. R. Stoneback,
this handsome volume collects the proceedings of the III International
Imagism/VII International Richard Aldington Conference. Focusing, as the title
suggests, on Aldington and his Imagist work, the book begins with “Ghosts in
the Background Moving: Introduction” by H.R. Stoneback. It includes essays by
Valerie Hemingway and scholars such as Anderson Araujo, Jeff Grieneisen,
Christos Hadjiyannis, Daniel Kempton, Matthew Nickel.
Along with contacting the Aldington/Imagism
conference organizers, one can also purchase copies of this book by contacting
Jeff Grieneisen or Courtney Ruffner Grieneisen at email@example.com. or