Sassoon's great trilogy, signed.
SASSOON, Siegfried. Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man [with] Memoirs of an Infantry Officer [and] Sherston's Progress. London: Faber & Faber, 1928-30-36.
8vo. 3 vols.; original blue buckram, spines lettered in gilt, top edges gilt, others untrimmed, some unopened; pp. vol. I., 395, [v]; vol. II 334, [ii]; vol. III 380; spines of the first two titles sunned, some browning to endpapers in vols 1 and 3, otherwise a very good set.
First editions, all special issues on hand-made paper, limited to 260, 750 and 300 copies respectively, all signed by the author. A lightly fictionalised autobiography based on Sassoon's diaries up until 1916.
Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man was Sassoon's first forray into the world of prose, having previously concentrated solely on poetry. Sassoon was motivated to write the work after a war incident, when a fox was loose in the trenches and one of his friends shot and killed it. The book also draws heavily on his pre-war life, with riding and hunting being among the favourite pastimes of the author. The book won both the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and has been a set text in schools ever since its publication.
Memoirs of an Infantry Officerquickly followed, and was immediately more sucessful than its predecessor. The narrative revolves around Sherston, who is wounded when a piece of shrapnel shell passes through his lung after he incautiously sticks his head over the parapet at the Battle of Arras in 1917. Sasson later wrote that Sherston "is but one insignificant person caught up in events beyond anyone's comprehension".Harman, 2001.
Finally, the setting forSherston's Progress moves from Palestine, to Ireland, and back to the Western Front in France. The protagonist is shot in the head, survives, and returns to recover in London, where he meets the famous neurologist W. H. R. Rivers. Rivers, a real-life Doctor, is a major character in the book, and had a profound influence on Sassoon in real life. In a letter to Robert Graves, while recovering from the head wound he based his narrative upon, Sassoon describes Rivers's bedside manner thus:
"But yesterday my reasoning Rivers ran solemnly in,
With peace in the pools of his spectacled eyes and a wisely omnipotent grin;
And I fished in that steady grey stream and decided that I
after all am no longer the Worm that refuses to die."