"BUT THE OLD MAN WOULD NOT SO, BUT SLEW HIS SON, AND HALF THE SEED OF EUROPE, ONE BY ONE":WILFRED OWEN'S POEMS, PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION COPY INSCRIBED BY SIEGFRIED SASSOON TO NOVELIST EDITH OLIVIER
OWEN, Wilfred. The Poems of Wilfred Owen. A New Edition Including Many Pieces Now First Published, and Notices of His Life and Work by Edmund Blunden. London: Chatto & Windus, 1931. Octavo, original purple cloth, original plain dust jacket. $7200.
First Blunden edition of Wilfred Owen's first book of war poems, expanded by fellow war-poet Edmund Blunden from the 1920 first edition which had been edited by Siegfried Sassoon, presentation/association copy inscribed on the half title by Sassoon to novelist and friend Edith Olivier, "Edith Olivier, from S.S. 21.3.31."
Though only four poems were published in his lifetime, Wilfred Owen is "recognized as the greatest poet of the Great War… Owen's subject was, he declared, 'war, and the pity of war.' He expressed it through dark word portraits, in which dead and dying young men were stripped of any glory or sentimentality." After volunteering in 1915, the young poet was sent to France where he was wounded in battle and diagnosed with shell shock. During his recovery in Craiglockart Hospital, "Owen befriended a fellow patient, the poet Siegfried Sassoon, and embarked on his most prolific period of writing," subsequently returning to France where he "was killed in action at the age of 25, just days before the war's end" (New York Times). Owen's gift for conveying disillusionment with war gives his best work "a mythic power that set him in a tradition extending back to Dante, Virgil, Homer, and beyond… these are poems to which we owe-more than to any others-our vision of the reality of the Western Front, of Hell on earth" (Hamilton, 405). First published posthumously in 1920 in an edition edited by Sassoon, this second edition was greatly expanded by fellow war-poet Edmund Blunden: poems appearing here that were not in the first edition include "Asleep," "At a Calvary near Ancre," "Cramped in that Funnelled Hole," "The End," "Miners," The Next War," "To Eros" and "Training." Hayward 337. Reilly, 244. Temple & Tucker, 215. See Grolier Club, Soldier Poets of the Great War; An English Library, 129. This excellent association copy was presented by Sassoon to novelist Edith Olivier. Olivier was a confidante and hostess at her home in Wiltshire to many upper-class aesthetes, including Sassoon, Osbert Sitwell, Cecil Beaton, and Stephen Tennant. Sassoon movd to Fitz House, Wiltshire, around the time of this inscription, while he was pursuing a love affair with Stephen Tennant, who lived next door at Wilsford Manor, with Olivier acting as mediator. In 1933 she introduced Sassoon to Hester Gatty, who became his wife later that same year. Bookplate of Anthony Hobson, the famed head of Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby's.
Interior fine, toning to cloth; plain dust jacket with darkened spine, otherwise in exceptional condition. A wonderful association copy.