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A Letter from the WWI Front


As a coda to yesterday’s post regarding Hodgson’s WWI experiences, I present this excerpt from a letter that WHH wrote to his mother in 1918:

“The sun was pretty low as I came back, and far off across that desolation, here and there they showed–just formless, squarish, cornerless masses erected by man against the infernal Storm that sweeps for ever, night and day, day and night, across that most atrocious Plain of Destruction.  My God!  talk about a Lost World–talk about the end of the World; talk about the ‘Night Land’–it is all here, not more than two hundred odd miles from where you sit infinitely remote.  And the infinite, monstrous, dreadful pathos of the things one sees–the great shell-hole with over thirty crosses sticking in it; some just up out of the water–and the dead below them, submerged….If I live and come somehow out of this (and certainly, please God, I shall and hope to), what a book I shall write if my old ‘ability’ with the pen has not forsaken me.” (OUT OF THE STORM, Donald Grant.  West Kingston, Rhode Island, 1975.  Pg 115.)

The letter is all the more poignant with the knowledge that Hodgson did not, after all, “come somehow out of this”.  Who knows what vistas of horror that the Great War might have spurred him to write?

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