Friday, January 20, 2023
More Uses for Books, Other Than Reading
'I do not make any particular complaint about your doubling the price of my book, but of course it diminishes the sale and therefore diminishes my chances of the advertisement to which I am always looking forward: a soldier is to receive a bullet in the breast, and it is to be turned aside from his heart by a copy of A Shropshire Lad which he is carrying there. Hitherto it is only the Bible that has performed this trick.'1Hat tip: Jim O'Donnell.
1 Mrs. Symons tells me that A.E.H. did hear of a copy of A Shropshire Lad stained by a soldier's blood. Among his papers he had kept the letter of an American who had looked after a wounded British soldier in France after the War and wrote to tell him about it. One day the American took A Shropshire Lad to the wounded man. The man smiled and took from under his pillow a copy of his own, all tattered, tom and blood-stained. It had been in his pocket through the War from 1914, and he had written in it three other Housman poems. Which poems, I wonder, could those have been. 'Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries’ must almost certainly have been one of them.