Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
  The Glory of the Trenches Coningsby Dawson

How This Book Was Written

Page 1 of 3

Table Of Contents: The Glory of the Trenches

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

In my book, The Father of a Soldier, I have already stated the conditions under which this book of my son's was produced.

He was wounded in the end of June, 1917, in the fierce struggle before Lens. He was at once removed to a base-hospital, and later on to a military hospital in London. There was grave danger of amputation of the right arm, but this was happily avoided. As soon as he could use his hand he was commandeered by the Lord High Commissioner of Canada to write an important paper, detailing the history of the Canadian forces in France and Flanders. This task kept him busy until the end of August, when he obtained a leave of two months to come home. He arrived in New York in September, and returned again to London in the end of October.

Tired of reading? Add this page to your Bookmarks or Favorites and finish it later.

The plan of the book grew out of his conversations with us and the three public addresses which he made. The idea had already been suggested to him by his London publisher, Mr. John Lane. He had written a few hundred words, but had no very keen sense of the value of the experiences he had been invited to relate. He had not even read his own published letters in Carry On. He said he had begun to read them when the book reached him in the trenches, but they made him homesick, and he was also afraid that his own estimate of their value might not coincide with ours, or with the verdict which the public has since passed upon them. He regarded his own experiences, which we found so thrilling, in the same spirit of modest depreciation. They were the commonplaces of the life which he had led, and he was sensitive lest they should be regarded as improperly heroic. No one was more astonished than he when he found great throngs eager to hear him speak. The people assembled an hour before the advertised time, they stormed the building as soon as the doors were open, and when every inch of room was packed they found a way in by the windows and a fire-escape. This public appreciation of his message indicated a value in it which he had not suspected, and led him to recognise that what he had to say was worthy of more than a fugitive utterance on a public platform. He at once took up the task of writing this book, with a genuine and delighted surprise that he had not lost his love of authorship. He had but a month to devote to it, but by dint of daily diligence, amid many interruptions of a social nature, he finished his task before he left. The concluding lines were actually written on the last night before he sailed for England.

We discussed several titles for the book. The Religion of Heroism was the title suggested by Mr. John Lane, but this appeared too didactic and restrictive. I suggested Souls in Khaki, but this admirable title had already been appropriated. Lastly, we decided on The Glory of the Trenches, as the most expressive of his aim. He felt that a great deal too much had been said about the squalor, filth, discomfort and suffering of the trenches. He pointed out that a very popular war-book which we were then reading had six paragraphs in the first sixty pages which described in unpleasant detail the verminous condition of the men, as if this were the chief thing to be remarked concerning them. He held that it was a mistake for a writer to lay too much stress on the horrors of war. The effect was bad physiologically--it frightened the parents of soldiers; it was equally bad for the enlisted man himself, for it created a false impression in his mind. We all knew that war was horrible, but as a rule the soldier thought little of this feature in his lot. It bulked large to the civilian who resented inconvenience and discomfort, because he had only known their opposites; but the soldier's real thoughts were concerned with other things. He was engaged in spiritual acts. He was accomplishing spiritual purposes as truly as the martyr of faith and religion. He was moved by spiritual impulses, the evocation of duty, the loyal dependence of comradeship, the spirit of sacrifice, the complete surrender of the body to the will of the soul. This was the side of war which men needed most to recognise. They needed it not only because it was the true side, but because nothing else could kindle and sustain the enduring flame of heroism in men's hearts.

Page 1 of 3 Previous Chapter   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
The Glory of the Trenches
Coningsby Dawson

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004