Monday, August 17, 2015


Bad Soldiers

Frank Thompson, letter to Iris Murdoch (July 31, 1943), in Iris Murdoch. A Writer at War. Letters & Diaries 1938-46, ed. Peter J. Conradi (London: Short Books, 2010), p. 152 (with the editor's notes):
Have been reading the Orlando Furioso and find it a little dull. What bad soldiers those cavalieri antiqui57 were! In the middle of battle they would drink of some magic fountain, go berserk with passion, and spend the next five years chasing some terrified donzella58 from the Pyrenees to China. And what would I say to one of my men who, while drinking from a river, lost his steel helmet in the water?!! Their adventures have none of the reality which those of Homeric heroes have. You could put Achilles and Patroclus in FMSO59, land 'em on the coast of Sicily instead of the Troad, and they would be quite at home, would say and do almost exactly the same things. But Oliver and Rinaldo, chasing around in tanks after women, would look pretty silly.

57 Knights of old.
58 Damsel.
59 Full Service Marching Order.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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