"Base Details" by Siegfried Sassoon

            In spite of the fact that I am such an avid reader, I am not very fond of poetry. I would much rather find myself lost in the pages of a heavy tome than confounded within the lines of poems. For as long as I can remember, analyzing (and simply understanding poetry) has been a weakness of mine. Today, however, I am going to be taking on “Base Details” by Siegfried Sassoon.
            As I found myself reading through the poem, the message I believed Sassoon was trying to convey was that there was a stark difference between soldiers and Majors, yet creating a satiric tone while doing so.  He gives the reader the impression that soldiers are forced to do the fighting, while the Majors are given the luxury of safety. This overall meaning was illustrated through Sassoon’s use of poetic devices, the most prominent being imagery. The first example was given as the poem reads, “I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,/ And speed glum heroes up the line to death” (2-3). Sassoon utilizes vivid diction as a portrayal of two things: the treatment of soldiers, and how they feel about it. We now see that the Majors are aiding the soldiers in their demise as they force them to the line of battle, or “death” as Sassoon writes, however, we also see that they are unhappy about it. As Sassoon refers to the soldiers as “glum heroes,” we learn of the disparity behind their heroic action.
            This use of imagery is continued throughout “Base Details” and Sassoon sets the tone with his diction, but the end of the poem best exemplifies this point. The poem states, “And when the war is done and youth stone dead, / I’d toddle safely home and die – in bed” (9-10).  These two lines are the epitome of everything Sassoon meant the poem to be; as the war comes to a close, the soldiers who were willing to give their all will be gone, while those who were watching from the sidelines will be able to return home. He uses imagery such as “stone dead” and “toddle safely home” to place emphasis on this point – the Majors will be able to stroll back unscathed while the glum heroes will be the ones left behind, stone dead.
            Upon completing this poem, I felt slightly differently about analyzing and understanding poetry. Whether it was Sassoon’s style or my fascination with the era of the First World War, something drew me into this poem. The way the imagery intertwined with the purpose of the poem worked well and created a critical tone that made the poem enjoyable, yet significant and important. The satirical style of the poem was consistently evident and Sassoon’s imagery highlighted it well.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Book Talk

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Goodreads Rating:  (3.27)
My Rating:  (4)

            I walked into Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with much anticipation, but loads of skepticism clouding my excitement. In all honesty, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When I purchased my copy of the book, one of the first things I noticed was that it listed both Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith as the authors. This eased my worries a little; I no longer felt that Austen’s language would be utterly butchered as the book must have contained a majority of it to keep her as a contributing author. Once this was settled, I was able to delve into the novel. After I did, I can say with ease that I was not disappointed.
            For a quick synopsis of the book: set in 19th century England, a plague sweeps throughout the nation and basically leaves the countryside in a state of war. The Bennet sisters, who are highly trained in the defensive arts, are battling those who are taken ill by this mysterious plague, all while fighting the force of their mother who (as in the original novel) is captivated by the idea of her daughters marrying into well-off families. From here on, the plot basically remains the same, but with a lot more zombies and battles.
            Before reading this book, I read many reviews where readers were left feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. I was under the impression that I would feel the same, however, I most certainly do not. I truly enjoyed reading it and reemerging myself in the world of Pride and Prejudice. Before I begin, I'd like to point out the illustrations. They really enhanced my experience as I really enjoy reading books when the occasional image is thrown in there. Aside from that, I think the main thing I liked about it was that it read like a Jane Austen book; I could open up to any page and it would feel (for the most part) as if I were reading Austen’s original work. The additions and changes that Grahame-Smith made did not feel too tacky or overdone, they felt modern and entertaining. I also really loved how cinematic it felt. The true driving force that inspired me to read the book was that it is being adapted into film. The further I found myself in the book, the more I could visualize the movie; there are some books that translate well on-screen, and this seems to be one of them. Although I feel the imagery for the plague and zombies could have been better provided in the book itself, the idea of the book as a whole is an exciting idea for a film, and I am very much anticipating it!
            As someone who enjoys reading YA fiction and classic literature, this book felt like an amazing fit. The addition of the zombies did not feel too far fetched as I still find joy in reading Young Adult novels set in fantasy worlds. When this was mashed with one of my favorite classics, I did proceed with caution, but in the end I found myself delighted. In the end, I’d have to give the book 4 stars. It was a fast paced, fun read and I really enjoyed myself, but I felt that the author held back on the whole zombie battle aspect. The book wasn’t original enough for it to garner a 5 star review from me. Last but not least, spoiler alert, I’m so glad Charlotte Lucas got the plague. Definitely saw that one coming.