Arthur and Emily: A Note on a World War I Novel
In 1973, the Monash University Library acquired from the Australian bookseller, Burge Lopez, a manuscript itemised as 'an anonymous unpublished typescript novel' (Arthur and Emily 9). A little over ten years later McPhee Gribble and Penguin Books co-operated to bring out Arthur and Emily: Letters in Wartime, edited by two Melbourne librarians, and comprising a 'correspondence' of some thirty-one letters 'passing between an Australian soldier and his wife' from 5 August 1915 to 24 January 1916 (9). In his introduction, Warren G. Osmond found that the 'justification for publishing this tiny collection ... [lay] in its simplicity, accessibility, and its rare, poignant combination of a husband and a wife's letters: its direct account of a relationship expressed in intense, unusually thoughtful prose.' It was 'not only a diary-like record of happenings, but a moving moral dialogue between and within two sentient beings.' Its value 'to those of us' who come later, he urges, lies in its authenticity, its 'simple, powerful depiction of how a soldier and his wife experienced his decision to enlist and its consequences' (2),
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