Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Recent reading

I wish I had realised before I began it that Pat Barker had based 'Life Class' on an actual group of students at the Slade (School of Art) before World War I, because the characters would then have seemed more real. If you are unfamiliar with these war painters and want to know more, look at Google images and seach for CWR Nevinson (who I guess is Kit Neville in the book) or Paul Nash. I don't want to post any of Nevinson's graphic paintings of soldiers in the trenches, but to give you an idea of his style - above is Ypres during the bombing, and below is Sinister Paris Night (c.1929).

To read an enlightening Times review of the book click here

At first I felt Life Class wasn't as gripping as the Regeneration triology, perhaps because I couldn't sympathise with the characters, especially Elinor (Dora Carrington?) They didn't move me in the same way as in, say, Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth, but then of course that was an autobiography.

It's only when Paul is working in a hospital at the Front that one becomes seriously involved and seriously horrified all over again. So if you like Pat Barker's books, do read it. The writing is as spare and good as ever, but I'm not sure the novel has the same power as her earlier ones.

Another interesting artist of this period is Stanley Spencer. One of these fine or not so fine days I intend to visit the Sandham Memorial Chapel and will blog about it afterwards.

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