Edmund Blunden (1896-1974) was one of the youngest of the war poets, enlisting straight from school to find himself in some of the Western Front's most notorious hot-spots. His prose memoir, written in a rich, allusive vein, full of anecdote and human interest, is unique for its quiet authority and for the potency of its dream-like narrative. Once we accept the archaic conventions and catch the tone-which can be by turns horrifying or hilarious-Undertones of
War gradually reveals itself as a masterpiece. It is clear why it has remained in print since it first appeared in 1928.
This new edition not only offers the original unrevised version of the prose narrative, written at white heat when Blunden was teaching in Japan and had no access to his notes, but provides a great deal of supplementary material never before gathered together. Blunden's 'Preliminary' expresses the lifelong compulsion he felt 'to go over the ground again' and for half a century he prepared new prefaces, added annotations. All those prefaces and a wide selection of his commentaries are included
here-marginalia from friends' first editions, remarks in letters, extracts from later essays, and a substantial part of his war diary. John Greening has provided a scholarly introduction discussing the bibliographical and historical background, and brings his poet's eye to a much expanded (and
more representative) selection of Blunden's war poetry. For the first time we can see the poet Blunden as the major figure he was.
Blunden had always hoped for a properly illustrated edition of the work, and kept a folder full of possible pictures. The editor, with the Blunden family's help, has selected some of the best of them to include in this new edition.
John Greening studied at the Universities of Swansea, Exeter, and Mannheim. After working for Hans Keller at BBC Radio 3, he went to Upper Egypt to teach English with VSO. He has been a school-teacher ever since and lives with his wife in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire. Since 1982, he has published over a dozen collections of poetry, most recently Hunts: Poems 1979-2009 (Greenwich Exchange, 2009) and To the War Poets (Carcanet, 2013). He received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors in 2008 and has won the Bridport Prize and the TLS Centenary Prize. He is a regular reviewer of poetry for the TLS and a judge for the Eric Gregory Awards. His critical books include Poets of the First World War, Poetry Masterclass, Elizabethan Love Poets and studies of Ted Hughes, Hardy, Yeats, and Edward Thomas. Vapour Trails, a selection of his reviews and essays, will shortly be published.
INTRODUCTION AND TEXTUAL HISTORY ; CHRONOLOGY ; PRELIMINARY ; UNDERTONES OF WAR ; A SUPPLEMENT OF POETICAL INTERPRETATIONS AND VARIATIONS ; NOTES TO UNDERTONES AND THE SUPPLEMENT OF POETICAL INTERPRETATIONS AND VARIATIONS ; A FURTHER SUPPLEMENT OF POEMS (2014) COMPILED BY THE EDITOR, WITH NOTES ; 1917 DIARY