Letters from a Lost Generation

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9781844085705: Letters from a Lost Generation
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This poignant work collects correspondence written from 1913 to 1918 between Vera Brittain and four young men -- her fiance Roland Leighton, her younger brother Edward and their two close friends, Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow -- who were all killed in action during World War I.

The correspondence presents a remarkable and profoundly moving portrait of five idealistic youths caught up in the cataclysm of war. Spanning the duration of the war, the letters vividly convey the uncertainty, confusion, and almost unbearable suspense of the tumultuous war years. They offer important historical insights by illuminating both male and female perspectives and allow the reader to witness and understand the Great War from a variety of viewpoints, including those of the soldier in the trenches, the volunteer nurse in military hospitals, and even the civilian population on the home front. As Brittain wrote to Roland Leighton in 1915, shortly after he arrived on the Western Front: "Nothing in the papers, not the most vivid and heartbreaking descriptions, have made me realize war like your letters."

Yet this collection is, above all, a dramatic account of idealism, disillusionment, and personal tragedy as revealed by the voices of four talented schoolboys who went almost immediately from public school in Britain to the battlefields of France, Belgium, and Italy. Linking each of their compelling stories is the passionate and eloquent voice of Vera Brittain, who gave up her own studies to enlist in the armed services as a nurse.

As World War I fades from living memory, these letters are a powerful and stirring testament to a generation forever shattered and haunted by grief, loss, and promise unfulfilled.

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Review:

The events set in motion by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 changed many lives irrevocably. For Vera Brittain, an Oxford undergraduate who left her studies to volunteer as a nurse in military hospitals in England and France, the war was a shattering experience; she not only witnessed the horrors inflicted by combat through her work, but she lost the four men closest to her at that time--her fiancé, Roland Leighton, brother Edward, and two close friends, Geoffrey Thurlow and Victor Nicholson, who all died on the battlefield.

Letters from a Lost Generation, a collection of previously unpublished correspondence between Brittain and these young men--all public schoolboys at the start of the war--chronicles her relationship with them, and reveals "the old lie," the idealized glory of patriotic duty that was soon overtaken by the grim reality of the Flanders trenches. The letters are lively, dramatic, immediate and, despite the awfulness of war, curiously optimistic: "Somehow I feel the end is not destined to be here and now. We have not fulfilled ourselves--and someday we shall live our roseate poem through," wrote Vera in one of her last letters to Roland in December 1915, just days before he was killed by a sniper's bullet. Following his death, and later those of their mutual friends Victor and Geoffrey, Vera's letters take on a new, raw intensity as she concentrates all her emotions on her brother--a hero awarded the Military Cross--until his death on the Italian Front in June 1918. These letters formed the basis of Vera Brittain's remarkable autobiography, Testament of Youth, and vividly bring to life the voices of the lost generation whose words threaten to be lost forever as the First World War recedes even further from living memory. --Catherine Taylor, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

Alan Bishop is Professor of English at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. He is the author of an acclaimed biography of Joyce Cary, Gentleman Rider, and the editor of three volumes of Vera Brittain's diaries. Mark Bostridge is the co-author of Vera Brittain: A Life. He lives in England.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780316646642: Letters from a Lost Generation: First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends

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ISBN 10:  0316646644 ISBN 13:  9780316646642
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company, 1998
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9780349111520: Letters from a Lost Generation

Little..., 1999
Softcover

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Nothing in the papers, not the most vivid and heart-rending descriptions, have made me realise war like your letters Vera Brittain to Roland Leighton, 17 April 1915.This selection of letters, written between 1913 1918, between Vera Brittain and four young men - her fiance Roland Leighton, her brother Edward and their close friends Victor Richardson Geoffrey Thurlow present a remarkable and profoundly moving portrait of five young people caught up in the cataclysm of total war. Roland, Monseigneur , is the leader his letters most clearly trace the path leading from idealism to disillusionment. Edward, Immaculate of the Trenches , was orderly controlled, down even to his attire. Geoffrey, the non-militarist at heart had not rushed to enlist but put aside his objections to the war for patriotism s sake. Victor on the other hand, possessed a very sweet character and was known as Father Confessor . An important historical testimony telling a powerful story of idealism, disillusionment and personal tragedy. Seller Inventory # AA29781844085705

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Nothing in the papers, not the most vivid and heart-rending descriptions, have made me realise war like your letters Vera Brittain to Roland Leighton, 17 April 1915.This selection of letters, written between 1913 1918, between Vera Brittain and four young men - her fiance Roland Leighton, her brother Edward and their close friends Victor Richardson Geoffrey Thurlow present a remarkable and profoundly moving portrait of five young people caught up in the cataclysm of total war. Roland, Monseigneur , is the leader his letters most clearly trace the path leading from idealism to disillusionment. Edward, Immaculate of the Trenches , was orderly controlled, down even to his attire. Geoffrey, the non-militarist at heart had not rushed to enlist but put aside his objections to the war for patriotism s sake. Victor on the other hand, possessed a very sweet character and was known as Father Confessor . An important historical testimony telling a powerful story of idealism, disillusionment and personal tragedy. Seller Inventory # AA29781844085705

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