This is one of the books that has been on the shelf for a very long time. For one reason or another, other books always took precedence. One of these reasons was probably my reluctance to take on some reading I knew would have considerable impact on me. Birdsong is considered by many critics Faulk’s masterpiece and the reviews make it clear that one cannot emerge from it unscarred. In the year that we remember the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the WWI, I thought it was time to face it.
There is plenty of historical material on the WWI and this year’s celebrations are an attempt to raise people’s awareness of what happened in the conflict. But perhaps we need fictional accounts to fully understand the horror and the loss that it brought about not only to that generation but to generation after generation till today. I suppose I do agree with Robert Graves when he stated that ‘falsity’ was necessary for an accurate representation of the reality of the trenches (Fussell, 2013, p. 207).
Birdsong is a powerful and harrowing account of lives lost and transformed by the war both during the conflict and much after it has been lost and ‘won’. I am glad I have finally read it.
Faulks, S. (1993) Birdsong. London: Vintage.
Fussell, P. (2013) The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.