In a nutshell, because the war poetry of John Allan Wyeth changes the landscape of First World War literature. His body of work is like a promontory hidden by mists for three-quarters of a century, and one day the mists disperse and there it stands, commanding its own space, impossible to ignore, and altering forever the configuration of features on the land. It is the extent and character of that alteration which contributors to this blog will explore.
To date Wyeth remains almost completely unknown. His book of war sonnets, This Man’s Army: A War in Fifty-odd Sonnets, was first published in 1928 and reprinted the following year. The reviews of his book were not only favorable for the most part, but often remarkably prescient. And yet the book went unnoticed by the literary world, and it sank into oblivion.
In 2008 This Man’s Army was republished by the University of South Carolina Press as part of Matthew Bruccoli’s “Great War Series” of neglected WWI literary classics. Once again, the reviews have been favorable, and strong, but few in number.
The real work of assessing Wyeth’s place in the literature of the First World War has yet to be undertaken. This blog represents an attempt to get the ball rolling, to approach Wyeth’s work from a number of angles, and so start a number of conversations which I hope others will take up. In addition to essays, and back-and-forth discussions, links to previously published essays and reviews on Wyeth will be provided, as well as links to other sites devoted to the literature of the First World War.
When you have a chance, visit the new Wyeth blog at: http://johnallanwyeth.blogspot.com/