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The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (Penguin Classics) 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0141181905
ISBN-10: 0141181907
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. George Walter is a lecturer in English at Sussex University. His research interests are 20th-century literature; madness and creativity; constructions of Englishness; the cultural impact of the First World War. He has edited editions of the poet Ivor Gurney's work for Everyman and Fyfield Books. He lives in Lewes, Sussex.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (May 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141181907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141181905
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is, as its title says, a book of "First World War Poetry." Thus it includes anyone who simply wrote poetry during that time. So we have Robert Frost, Edith Sitwell, and Nancy Cunard, among others, whom I have never particularly associated with the Great War.

But a more irritating aspect of the book is its lack of a proper index of poets and a table of contents listing the poems by author. Thus one has to rummage around looking for a particular poet, whose name, for an equally mystifying reason, is not given until the end of the poem.

The Introduction by the editor, George Walter, is excellent, as is, for the most part, his choice of poems, with the obvious exceptions. But the layout of the book itself is exasperating, even irritating.
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In contrast to the other two reviewers, I find the organization and format of this anthology to be quite sensible: 5 clearly identifiable thematic sections, brief biographies of all the poets in the anthology, with the poems in the anthology clearly listed by name as well as the original source from which the poem was drawn, and a combined index of poems by first line and title. The introduction and the notes are especially useful for college students being introduced to British Trench Poets. I spent quite a bit of time considering anthologies of British Trench Poetry for a college course and decided upon Walter's because of its organization, biographies, index, notes, and sourcing--and also because it included not only the best known pieces by the best known poets --Owen, Sassoon, Brooke, Rosenberg et al--but also lesser known works by poets rarely included in WWI poetry anthologies. Editors are forced to make choices, and I feel Walter made some excellent ones--my students, too, have no trouble using this book. This anthology so obviously does not attempt to include poets/poems from other countries, to criticize it for not doing so would be like criticizing an anthology of German WWI poetry for not having included British WWI poetry.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book for a class on the literature of the First World War and was excited to finally own a proper collection of WWI poetry. I'd seen older editions in used bookstores and liked them and figured this one ought to be an improvement on what was already a pretty solid, useful collection. To my dismay, I soon realized that while the selection of poems is generally fine, if I wanted a *useful* collection, this wasn't it.

The two main things that drove me up the wall:

1. As other reviewers have mentioned, the book is organized into thematic sections, tracing (roughly chronologically) the emotional experience of soldiers and homefront through the war. If you're reading the book to get an "experience" of WWI poetry, then this is not a bad way to do it. If you're reading it because you want to look at the works of a given war poet, it's ridiculous. Even within the thematic sections, the poems aren't grouped by author, and there is no index. My entire class had about an hour of "homework" in which we had to search through the book and put color-coded sticky tabs on the pages of the poems and poets were were assigned to look at, just so we could find them easily during class---whereas in the older editions of this anthology the poems were simply grouped by poet. (My professor was as dismayed/frustrated as I was.)

2. The editor's note at the beginning of the book explains that he chose to include only the first published edition of any given poem, on the logic that these were the first versions that the poets were ready to share with the world. If you're dealing with poets who published their own work, this is not unreasonable logic---but not all of the poets included here lived long enough to publish their work!
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By sir henry on October 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Where would World War I be without its poets? Though Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon stand head and shoulders above the rest, the reader is exposed to a whole collection of lesser poets and their works, which only serve to transport one back to that hideous slaughter.
Any study of WWI cannot be complete without the poetic words that helped shape the stark vividness of so much pointless battle. Penguin has put together a masterpiece--organization be damned. Just open it up and read...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting collection of World War poems. Some of the greatest poets of the 20th Century are featured in this collection, and the reader is given access to some of the mindsets of the men who lost their youth to European battlefields.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a complete letdown. The formatting is very broken with the numbers "10" and "20" appearing at random within the text. The lack of a proper index adds insult to injury. This mess of formatting should be free.
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