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När vi red efter räv (1928)

av Siegfried Sassoon

Andra författare: Paul Fussell (Redaktör)

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston (1)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
6331226,713 (3.79)42
George Sherston develops from a shy and awkward child, through shiftless adolescence, to an officer just beginning to understand the horrors of trench warfare. The world he grows up in, of village cricket and loyal grooms, had vanished forever by the time Sassoon wrote this book, but he captures it with a lyricism and gentleness that defy nostalgia. A bestseller on publication in 1928, this superb evocation of the Edwardian age has remained in print ever since. It was the first volume of a classic trilogy, completed by Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and Sherston's Progress, that charted both the destruction of the world for which Sassoon fought, and his own emergence as one of Britain's finest war poets.… (mer)
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    Memoirs of an Infantry Officer av Siegfried Sassoon (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: These two books are best read along with Sassoon's third in the triology, Sherston's Progress
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MEMOIRS OF A FOX-HUNTING MAN is the first volume of a trilogy, THE COMPLETE MEMOIRS OF GEORGE SHERSTON, Siegfried Sassoon's thinly-veiled fictional autobiography. It chronicles the early life of Sassoon's fictional alter ego. Sherston parents died "before I was capable of remembering them," and he was raised by his maiden Aunt Evelyn. He was home-schooled by a private tutor until he was twelve, then attended a private boarding school before going to university at Cambridge. But he dropped out of college and went back home to live the life of a country gentleman, supported by a generous trust fund. Much of his practical education comes from his aunt's hired man and groom, Tom Dixon, who instructs young George in the intricacies of cricket (a sport which still mystifies this Yank reader), horsemanship and the hunt. I must confess that I found much of this less than interesting and skimmed much of it.

I was much more intrigued by the final two chapters: "In the Army" and "At the Front." Sherston, at 28, through his fox-hunting connections, managed to secure a commission, went through some perfunctory officer training, and, shipped over to France, and ended up on the Somme, where he lost a few close friends and learned some very hard lessons. This volume ends there. The real story of Sassoon's war comes in the next book, MEMOIRS OF AN INFANTRY OFFICER, which I hope to read one day soon.

I became interested in Sassoon's life through Pat Barker's fictional WWI REGENERATION trilogy, which featured Sassoon as a central character, along with Dr William Rivers, the psychiatrist who treated him. Loved the Barker books and will recommend them highly. This book I would recommend only as an introduction to Sassoon and his early pre-war life.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
1 rösta TimBazzett | Nov 30, 2017 |
This fictionalized memoir was interesting, but assumed a vocabulary and contextual knowledge of pre-World War 1 England that few today have. I was able to deduce or ignore some of the fox-hunting terms, but references to now forgotten British popular authors escaped me. The real interest for me begins when Sasson's alter ego enlists in the army. ( )
  nmele | Mar 8, 2016 |
Unless, as most likely, Memoirs of a fox-hunting man was conceived as the first volume in the planning of the writing of the trilogy, the other two volumes to follow, being Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and Sherston's Progress, the first volume is quaintly unbalanced. It seems that the first part of the novel takes up too much, while the second part is relatively short.

However, it is this odd structure which lends Memoirs of a fox-hunting man its exceptional power. The first part of this autobiographical novel, which describes the early life of George Sherston (i.e. Siegfried Sassoon) appears as an endlessly long Indian Summer. Sherston is described as a young, upper-middle class, but not quite aristocratic boy who grows into adolescence, and quite apparently not bothered by schooling or the need to look for employment. Instead, he spends his time horse-riding. In the first 230 pages, or thereabout, social life in the English countrside is described from the point of view of the landed gentry. The purchase and learning to ride a horse, participating in a fox hunt, and the first steps of entering the social class just above his own level, George Sherston lives a laid-back life through the ever sunny summers of the Edwardian era. It was the backdrop to the life style that would be obliterated and completely disappear after World War I.

As young George Sherston reaches maturity he enlists in the army, and following mobilization finds himself at first under arms in England before being sent over to the front. This part of the book takes barely 50 pages, two chapters, of which only the last is about the experiences at the front. This chapter, however, still very much describes the experience of the Great War as a comradely, upper-class affair, with few gruesome details and room for poetry. Although it forms a grim contrast to the preceding part of the novel, in a way, it is still an extension of the priviledged life style of the upper classes.

Siegfried Sassoon is mostly known for his poetry, including his war poetry. Memoirs of a fox-hunting man is an autobiographical novel, and as such offers a first-hand experience of an author, and exceptionally brave soldier, who lived through the ordeal of the trench war. It describes a life style that was destroyed through the event of the Great War. ( )
2 rösta edwinbcn | Nov 9, 2014 |
Hard to believe it's been ten years since Britain banned traditional fox hunting. I was working for the BBC when the ban came in, and I remember going up to spend a day with one hunt in the midlands, filming them as they defiantly flouted the act, and then following them down to London for yet another huge tweed-clad protest outside Parliament. It was widely bruited about that animal welfare was just a smokescreen for a more sinister attack on country life by the urban classes.

The ban marked the formal end to an era that was, I suppose, in practice already long gone – the time of local hunts that brought small country communities together, ruddy-faced farmers doffing their caps as the squire rode past in hunting pink, everyone knowing everyone else and everyone knowing their place. Nowadays these same picturesque little villages are more likely to hold bankers on weekend retreats, adulterous retirees, and women pulling in six figures selling gold lamé tea-towels on Etsy.

Anyway, it's that lost world of rural Britain that is evoked in this affecting memoir – fictionalised memoir, I should say, because Sassoon also wrote some ‘straight’ non-fiction versions of his childhood, which most critics seem to think were less interesting than this putative novel. It is full of very beautiful Hardyesque descriptions of the English countryside:

To watch the day breaking from purple to dazzling gold while we trotted up a deep-rutted lane; to inhale the early freshness when we were on the sheep-cropped uplands; to stare back at the low country with its cock-crowing farms and mist-coiled waterways; thus to be riding out with a sense of spacious discovery – was it not something stolen from the lie-a-bed world and the luckless city workers – even though it ended in nothing more than the killing of a leash of fox-cubs? (for whom, to tell the truth, I felt an unconfessed sympathy).

Many of these descriptions are shot through with a generalised melancholy (‘It is with a sigh that I remember simple moments such as those, when I understood so little of the deepening sadness of life…’), whose source looms up through the text although it is rarely mentioned. Instead we just have an uneasy sense that everything we read about has somehow been lost, and this gave the detailed explanations of fox hunting an interest that they wouldn't otherwise have had for me.

I knew Sassoon as a war poet, of course, but this book showed me a completely new side to him – dry, witty, full of a kind of naïve and faux-pompous enthusiasm that allows for some admirable characterisations – of hens (‘the providers of that universally respected object, the egg’), for instance, or a local churchwarden (‘his impressive demeanour led us to suppose that, if he was not yet on hat-raising terms with the Almighty, he at any moment expected to be’). Supporting characters have cartoonish names like Nigel Croplady, Fred Buzzaway, Joe Barless, and Sir Jocelyn Porteus-Porteous (‘note the majestic variation in spelling’).

All of this Edwardian badinage only makes it the more painful when he sees his cosy world come crashing down with the outbreak of the First World War, a narrative intrusion that is carefully held off until near the end of the book. It's consequently quite horrific to head off to the trenches with such a jovial narrator after endless chapters of cheerful rural pranks – like seeing Bertie Wooster given a rifle and thrown in a dug-out.

Our narrator's natural Conservatism and patriotism evaporate on exposure to the realities of trench warfare. And the measured judgements of this cheerful innocent are much more powerful than any number of angry denunciations from other quarters.

To him, as to me, the War was inevitable and justifiable. Courage remained a virtue. And that exploitation of courage, if I may be allowed to say a thing so obvious, was the essential tragedy of the War, which, as everyone now agrees, was a crime against humanity.

This is the first of three volumes, the second and third of which focus more closely on Sassoon's wartime experiences. But he clearly wants to root their power in this long, dreamy remembrance of pre-war country life, so that we all understand what was lost. For me it worked well. (And if you're one of those ‘humanitarian cranks’ who worry about animal cruelty, I'm pretty sure they barely catch a single fox in the whole book.) ( )
5 rösta Widsith | Apr 27, 2014 |
3 – 3.5 stars

On the one hand Siegfried Sassoon’s _The Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man_ (the first volume in a trilogy)can be seen as a paen to the idyllic way of life of a country gentleman before the war to end all wars destroyed any pretence to concepts of chivalry and gallant action. On the other hand it can be seen as an indictment (knowing or otherwise) of the generally indolent and purposeless lives of the idle rich before an entire generation was nearly decimated. Either way it is a well-written and interesting picture of Edwardian life seen from the point of view of someone definitely in the upstairs portion of the upstairs/downstairs equation.

George Sherston (a semi-autobiographical stand-in for Sassoon) is the ‘hero’ of our tale, a young upper-middle class/lower-aristocratic orphan being raised by his well-meaning and generally absent aunt in the idyllic English countryside. His main concerns are cricket and fox hunting, and he is saved from seeming to be an utter upper class prig by virtue of his relatively shy nature and well-meaning intentions (not to mention his fairly impecuniary status compared to most other members of his social circle). Young Sherston also seems to take quite some time to grow into himself, and his longstanding feelings of being a virtual outsider in his own society, exiled to live in the far-flung environs of his aunt’s estate while the rest of the fashionable world seems to mostly pass him by, also allows him to be a fairly sympathetic narrative voice for readers who are also looking in on his world from the outside.

Sherston is something of a loner, his education being mostly the result of ‘home schooling’ under a tutor and his university experience cut short when he decides he’d rather play cricket and follow the hunt than take a degree. The best friend of Sherston’s youth is probably his groom and all-around gentleman’s gentleman Tom Dixon who is the primary influence in making young George into a “sporting man”. His solitary life does not seem to be broken up by much companionship of his own age until he meets Stephen Colwood, the son of a rector and fellow enthusiast in both the hunt and the related point-to-point races they spawn. The two soon grow quite close, aiding each other in their attempts to ensure they come up to the requirements of a model huntsman (which really in their case means horseman since their primary concern is having a good piece of horseflesh with which to jump over fences and race across the countryside) and take part in the best outings of the season. The only other significant character in these memoirs (aside from genial old Aunt Evelyn who remains mostly a passive and amiable figure in the background) is the enigmatic Denis Milden, a young fox hunter hero-worshipped by Sherston in his younger days who eventually reappears as a Master of the Hunt whose friendship and approval George prizes above almost all else. Peppered throughout all of these reminiscences, however, are a host of amusing and varied secondary characters who make up the bulk of the hunting society and rural village community that are Sherston’s entire world.

So far it sounds pretty priggish and boring, doesn’t it? I have to admit that there isn’t exactly a lot of high octane action, but Sassoon keeps things moving as each chapter highlights various events of signal importance to young Sherston’s growth as both a horseman and a man, from his initial successful cricket matches and his time spent with various hunting groups, to his purchase of his first excellent “piece of horseflesh” and eventual success at the all-important point-to-point races. Ultimately everything leads to the final two sections and his enlistment in the army as WWI looms unexpectedly from out of the quiet pastoral background in which he has been snuggly swaddled up to this point. The latter segments are likely where most reader’s main interest will lie (as well as in the next volume of the trilogy that makes up the memoirs of George Sherston’s experiences as an Infantry officer at the front) in order to get some insight into how a relatively feckless young man could grow into a soldier and leader in one of the most crushing episodes of the modern era. This is probably especially the case given the book’s semi-autobiographical nature and Sassoon’s place as one of the premier War Poets of the day, not to mention his position as a famous agitator for peace while still a soldier (of course we must always keep in mind that there is not a one-to-one correlation of Sherston to Sassoon regardless of the shared experiences they may have had). The early segments are certainly still of interest, though, for they do a good job of showing us the kind of inexperienced young men, whose heads were filled with thoughts of gallantry and were raised in days of relatively placid complacence, who were ultimately called upon to sacrifice themselves in the midst of horror and chaos. I even found myself carried along with Sherston’s own anxiety mixed with expectation as he ran his first great point-to-point race and was holding my breath until the very end. He really is such a likable young man that you can’t help but be infected by his inner thoughts and concerns, no matter how trivial they appear when you examine them from a wider context. Sherston himself, as narrator, is distinctly aware of this as he remembers his worries on the eve of a race:
Anyone who cares to do so is at liberty to make fun of the trepidations which a young man carries about with him and conceals. But there is a risk in such ridicule. As I remember and write, I grin, but not unkindly, at my distant and callow self and the absurdities which constitute his chronicle. To my mind the only thing that matters is the resolve to do something...even though [these thoughts] are only about buying a racing-cap.
When he first gets to the front, Sherston finds that he is one of the lucky ones, posted as Transportation Officer for his platoon and thus stationed behind the trenches. Still, he has to experience the hardships of army life and quietly, almost without comment in the memoirs, he experiences the deaths of his best friend Stephen Colwood and mentor Tom Dixon (the latter having joined up even though he was nearing fifty). All of the tragedies he witnesses are treated in this way, matter of fact; they are something to be regretted, but not something that one has any real power to change. It is in this context that, while on leave in England, Sherston ponders what has become of his life stating simply: “…I began to realize that my past was wearing a bit thin. The War seemed to have made up its mind to obliterate all those early adventures of mine. Point-to-point cups shone, but without conviction. And Dixon was dead…” That simple final statement of fact seems to contain in it a world of loss, expressed in the most austere manner possible. Sherston soon discovers that whether it is terrifying danger or mind-numbing boredom, the only way to deal with the horrors of his new life is to forget what he had left behind to “…try and feel secretly heroic, and to look back on the old life as pointless and trivial.”

One of the most feeling, though still poignantly understated, episodes is when Sherston loses a friend he had only met after enlisting and with whom he had managed to get posted to the same battalion: Once the chaplain’s words were obliterated by a prolonged burst of machine-gun fire; when he had finished a trench-mortar ‘cannister’ fell a few hundred yards away, spouting the earth up with a crash. A sack was lowered into a hole in the ground. The sack was Dick. I knew Death then.
It is this constant, trudging experience, even expectation, of death and loss, that begins to form a change in Sherston. The happy-go-lucky cricketer and huntsman is beginning to appreciate some of the darker realities of the wider world outside of his limited and parochial experience. Men under his charge die instantly and largely without comment, or quietly suffer a life of indignity and squalor in the name of a country whose concerns and existence seem more than a world away. It is in the midst of these harsh experiences that we begin to see a true echo of the feelings of Sassoon the writer come forth most boldly in Sherston the character. He remembers a period in the early days when he could still feel that…”the War was inevitable and justifiable. Courage remained a virtue. And that exploitation of courage, if I may be allowed to say a thing so obvious, was the essential tragedy of the War, which, as everyone now agrees, was a crime against humanity.” The hardening of George Sherston’s heart has begun and when the opportunity comes for him to escape his cushy posting in favour of joining his comrades at the front he jumps at it. This quiet and gentle young man has been so desensitized by his quiet losses that he has reached the point where he could cold-bloodedly decide to go “…to the trenches with the intention of trying to kill someone. It was my idea of getting a bit of my own back.” Not a feeling we are likely to find surprising, or all that blameworthy given his circumstances, but even then Sherston is conflicted and we are left with a final sight of the young officer standing watch across no-man’s land as a bird sings to the sunrise on Easter morning: “Standing in that dismal ditch, I could find no consolation in the thought that Christ was risen. I sploshed back to the dug-out to call the others up for ‘stand-to’.”
( )
2 rösta dulac3 | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Siegfried Sassoonprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Fussell, PaulRedaktörmedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Derville, GeorgeOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Hogarth, PaulIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Johnston, ArnridIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Lamb, LyntonIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Lascelles, AlanInledningmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Nicholson, WilliamIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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George Sherston develops from a shy and awkward child, through shiftless adolescence, to an officer just beginning to understand the horrors of trench warfare. The world he grows up in, of village cricket and loyal grooms, had vanished forever by the time Sassoon wrote this book, but he captures it with a lyricism and gentleness that defy nostalgia. A bestseller on publication in 1928, this superb evocation of the Edwardian age has remained in print ever since. It was the first volume of a classic trilogy, completed by Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and Sherston's Progress, that charted both the destruction of the world for which Sassoon fought, and his own emergence as one of Britain's finest war poets.

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