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Wilfred Owen 1st Edition

2 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0300153002
ISBN-10: 0300153007
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Wilfred Owen, who, at 25, was killed a week before the armistice, is the greatest English-language poet of WWI who died fighting it. Granting that there are more thorough biographies of Owen, Cuthbertson says he wishes to highlight Owen’s life and character by focusing on the relationships of “the child and the man,” “the man and the poetry,” and “the child and the western front.” These he pursues through constant quotation of and commentary on Owen’s letters, other prose, and poetry. He brings Owen’s early blooming literariness forward by connecting Owen’s reading to his poetry and by discussing his encounters, fraught with class tension, with important literary contemporaries. Cuthbertson highlights Owen’s lingering childlikeness, manifested by the innocent—indeed, innocuous—charm adults ascribed to him as well as his preference for the company of children, and he contrasts that with the heroism and fellowship Owen displayed as a junior officer at the front. He accounts for why Owen could be initially dubious about the war yet join in it, be against it yet determined to fight and suffer with the troops under him. Most important for some, Cuthbertson argues that if, as gay advocates claim, Owen was homosexual, he wasn’t what we now call a homosexual, whether open or closeted. Invaluable insight into a man whose words will be heard often during the upcoming WWI centennial. --Ray Olson


'scrupulous, thoughtful and open-minded [...] fired with enthusiasm for the poems and respect for the man who created them.  The result is a fine biography.' (John Sutherland, The Times)

“[A] vigorous, well-documented narrative, with fresh light to cast on some central themes. It is excellent on the Shropshire background, on Owen’s educational career…and on the curious life he led as an émigré in France. It offers too some intelligent analysis of Owen’s growing technical accomplishment as a poet.”—Rowan Williams, New Statesman
(Rowan Williams New Statesman 2014-02-21)

“[H]ere is an elegantly written, penetrating and stirring biography.”—John Preston, The Daily Mail (John Preston The Daily Mail 2014-02-28)

“Cuthbertson’s biography is admirably thorough in its unpacking of Owens’s poetic imagery. There is no reference that is unexplored.”—Daisy Goodwin, The Sunday Times (Daisy Goodwin The Sunday Times 2014-03-02)

“[Cuthbertson] writes with such sincerity, telling the story of Owen’s short life and journey from provincial obscurity to the carnage on the western front and then to posthumous fame as a ‘war’ poet with diligence and empathy.”—Jason Cowley, The Financial Times
(Jason Cowley The Financial Times 2014-03-01)

“Invaluable insight into a man whose words will be heard often during the upcoming WWI centennial.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Cuthbertson is scrupulous, thoughtful and open-minded. His book is fired with enthusiasm for the poems and respect for the man who created them. The result is a fine biography.”—John Sutherland, The Times (John Sutherland The Times 2014-03-15)

‘Guy Cuthbertson’s book is an amiable and admiring account of Wilfred Owens’s slow and often painful discovery of himself, as he made his way from railwayman’s son to Army officer and – after his death in battle – to famous poet.’—Derwent May, Standpoint Magazine
(Derwent May Standpoint Magazine 2014-04-01)

‘[Cuthbertson] score[s] highly as a sensitive and admiring critic of the poetry. . .attuned to the ironies and contradictions of his subject, whom he (surely correctly) portrays as an eternal child and swirling mass of contradictions.’—Nigel Jones, The Sunday Telegraph
(Nigel Jones The Sunday Telegraph 2014-03-30)

‘For a long time Owen has been set in stone, his poetry ossifying into anti-war cliché. Cuthbertson has made him live again.’—Gary Day, THES
(Gary Day THES 2014-05-01)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300153007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300153002
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,532,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Liverpool Hope University. I studied at St Andrews University (MA) and then at The Queen's College, Oxford University (M.Phil and D.Phil).

Wilfred Owen (Yale University Press, 2014): 'scintillating' (Times Higher Education), 'very readable, focused, vigorous, well-documented' (The New Statesman), 'truly lovely' (Birmingham Post), 'impressive' (The Sunday Herald), 'Book of the Week' (The Daily Mail), 'written with such sincerity, diligence and empathy' (The Financial Times), 'absorbing' (TLS), 'admirably thorough' (The Sunday Times), 'this book is rewarding' (Country Life), Booklist starred review - Top Ten Biographies of the Year, 'scrupulous, thoughtful, open-minded, fired with enthusiasm for the poems and respect for the man - a fine biography' (The Times), 'an original, sparkling book (FDP Newsletter), 'lively, frequently witty, and extensively researched' (The Use of English), 'valuable' (BBC History Magazine), 'highly recommended' (The National Review).

'rarely has a poet been better served than by Guy Cuthbertson's sensitive and beautifully-written account [...] highly readable, using a wealth of fascinating detail [...] should you purchase this truly lovely and deeply humane book, I guarantee you will read and re-read it - maybe for the rest of your life' (The Birmingham Post and syndicated)

'a scintillating biography - for a long time Owen has been set in stone, his poetry ossifying into anti-war cliché but Cuthbertson has made him live again' (Times Higher Education Supplement)

'Top Ten Biographies: 2014' - the top ten biographies of the year, 2013-14: 'Cuthbertson sensitively considers Owen's childlike charm, objections to the war, and heroism at the front' (Booklist)

'In this compassionate and moving biography, Cuthbertson lifts the lid on Owen's early years and their impact on his work. [...] While his boyishness nurtured his verse, his writing was mature and sophisticated, and Cuthbertson scrutinises this relationship wonderfully' (Daily Mail, 'Must Reads')

'Guy Cuthbertson's biography Wilfred Owen is to be highly recommended. Cuthbertson provides a fresh and insightful portrait of one of the most famous British war poets and corrects some false impressions that have become attached to him' (National Review)
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418755/life-and-death-trenches-sydney-leach


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was eager to read Cuthbertson's book as I am a long-time devotee of Wilfred Owen, but I found it a disappointment on a number of counts. There is a great deal of name dropping of famous people who turn out to have no connection to Owen (ie Owen and Montaigne both lived in Bordeaux at one time , their times being 350 years apart and no further connection). The author himself makes snarky comments about Owen's "lower middle class" background. The book could be more carefully edited (how often do we need to learn that Owen liked Chateau d'Yquem wine which is sweet and expensive?) There are a few useful pieces of information in this book, but they don't redeem the whole.
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