Sassoon on the Radio NOW!

Discussion in 'Films, Music and All Things Artsy' started by Stonker, Jun 7, 2007.

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  1. Dunno why I didn't spot this before:
    Repeated on Radio - shortened - 2130-2200 tonight
    Also BBC Listen Again here:
    Or download PODCAST podcast available 7 days from transmission only, I think
  2. Thanks, I did catch part of it this morning. However due to a late night, even allowing for a shower, I was not recovered enough to enjoy the programme.

    It was interesting to note his age- 28(?) at the time against the general demographic of the lads who committed themselves and eventually their lives to this war.
    His homosexuality was intelligently and sensitively explained I thought. He at least understood his situation as being out of step for those times and it was his fear of the law and it's consequences which kept him 'in due bounds'.

    I'll catch up with it tonight. Thanks for this reminder.
  3. heard a bit of it whilst getting dressed but will listen again over the weekend- it sounded very interesting.
  4. Bob,

    If you have the technology, online listen again or podcast (download an mp3 file) beats the radio repeat - because the radio repeat gets edited down to 2/3 of its original length, but the digital versions are unedited recordings of the morning transmission which (I think) goes out live.
  5. I was a bit disappointed by the "what a wonderful link he had with his men, because he was all sensitive, poetical and gay" line that a couple of the panelists took. I think they were forgetting that thousands of young (younger even) officers entered into that amazing relationship that is officer-soldier under combat conditions.

    There is no doubt that Sassoon was a top soldier, they called him Mad Jack because he killed Huns like it was going out of fashion; not because he wilfully bent the rules of iambic pentameter after all. He was also besotted with field sports. So as he was a warlike, fluffy ickle foxy murdering gay, he presents the sort of trendy lefty literati assembled by Lord Bragg with all kinds of problems. It gave me great pleasure listening to them tie themselves in ideological and sociological knots trying to approve of the poet and the man as an entity.

    Arguably Owen was the better poet but as he was Grammar School and northern he didn't get on so well with the Tennants and the "Souls" et cetera. He was also a pretty good citizen-soldier too.
  6. Breaking my own rule here (by includiong untidy complete quote, instead of selections - but feckit that's Bushmikls 4U).

    Haven't listened to the thing yet (tomorrowifmywifeletsme) BUT!!!

    SS - rediscovered in the 60s - is arguably the key figure behind the latter-day failure to grasp the achievements of the Generals of his time.

    And that is particularly important right now, 'cuz we are knee deep in a "War On Terror" that presents similar (greater?) challenges to our generals, and our gubmint(s).

    'bout time we (at every level of 'we') wised-fecking-up.

    :oops: It's the Bush, donchaknow :oops:
  7. stonks - Do you honestly believe that "The General" has the power to swing a national understanding of the Great War by itself?? I think that Liddell Hart and Alan clark could take the credit long before they got to Sassoon's share. Middlebrook, McDonald and Brown also sculpted our perceptions and they used thousands of primary sources not just Sassoon.

    Even amongst the recognised war poets, it is Owen, whose message is of the Pity of War, who holds sway. Sassoon's criticisms were not of the commanders in any case (per se) but of the perceived change of the war aims from "defence and liberation" to "aggression and conquest".Furthermore in 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer' there are few references to either the competence or indeed personality of senior officers - in fact the only one I can call to mind is a thumbs up to Rawlinson!
  8. I have acted as a tour guide for Anglia Battlefield Tours, who specialise in secondary school trips to the Western Front to match the current WW1 curriculum. That curriculum centres on "how it 'felt' to be a soldier" and poetry tours are big business.

    Very little objective, properly sourced teaching seems to take place around the actual conduct of the war, and teachers are surprised to be introduced to the thinking of the likes of Gary Sheffield or Paddy Griffiths, or the more populist Gordon Corrigan.

    If you want to read something which is specifically about the process by which the legends supercede the historical facts of war, read Paul Fussell - [ here's his Wikipedia entry] "The Great War and Modern Memory", (1975) which reviews the changing emphasis in literature over time (although I am not sure I agree with all of his conclusions).

    My own experience as a young teen (born 1955), was of Sassoon (et al) being re-discovered at the height of the war in Nam* , and being brought back to the attention of audiences of the time (meaning my parents and teachers), in the wake of the 1969 movie "O What A Lovely War". which (I learn from Wikipedia) was based on Alan Clark's "The Donkeys"published in 1961.

    WW1 was hardly discussed at all during my 1974 'education' at Sandhurst, even on the "Regular Careers Course", nor was it given much scrutiny when I went to the Staff College, 15 years later; it is down to my personal curiosity that in the years since then I have woken up to a rich variety of factually based accounts and analysis (many of them on the shelves of the Sandhurst Library, but seldom borrowed!) that do not seem to have any impact on the current mass consciousness.

    I have found a massive difference between the tone of the writing in books like Henry Ogle's The fateful battle line : the great war journals and sketches of Captain Henry Ogle, MC " pulled together from his wartime diaries, and that of men like Clark, or (worse, probably) Laffin.

    Few teachers have ever heard of, let alone read, Liddle Hart or the others. I would - in fact - go back further than you, and cite Lloyd George's tendentious memoirs as the start of the process of shaping the national view of the generals of WW1.

    Point is that short poems - including, but not exclusively, Sassoon's - are fed like soundbites to the nation, and have been for over 40 years, and are a significant influence. Result is that the common man's view of WW1 is more of a myth or legend than it is a thing of facts and evidence, balanced and analysed.

    That would possibly disappoint Sassoon given that he never lost his belief in the necessity of the war, or the quality of the soldiers who fought it.

    Things have moved on, however, and the context of his writing (and that of others) has been rather lost. Diligent and open-minded authors and readers - despite the resurgence of interest in WW1 in recent years - are, sadly, a minority of the population as a whole.[hr] * I don't mean CheltenNam, BTW :D
  9. Stonks - have you read Paul Hart The great War in Myth and Memory? It came out last year I think. Very interesting and not as axe grindingly biased as Paul fussel's work. I saw Fussel at a seminar in Bath or Bristol and I have to say I nearly walked out. He is sadly one of those academics who has a view and that is it, debate over, game off.

    Sadly I have to agree with you on the educational performance vis a vis WW1 in this country. It is all about empathy and nothing of value or factual relevance gets handed on. I took 24 serving soldiers to Flers last weekend and they all had a one big trench from Belgium to switzerland, sitting in the dugout waiting to be machined gunnned on the general's (flawed) orders concept!! They were stunned at the scale of the defensive position and amazed that this was a success. They all thought the Somme was 1st July only and we had lost!

    So that is 24 re-educated! So many still to tackle though...:twisted: