Books: John Stuart Roberts, Tue Waterstone's, Tunbridge Wells

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The Independent Culture
The First World War raised Siegfried Sassoon from a versifier into a true poet. Before seeing combat, war was heroic, fought by "happy legions", where "Horror of the wounds and anger at the foe./And loss of things desired; all these must pass."

But piles of putrefying corpses soon knocked out of him the idealism, and he began penning beautiful but bitter poems such as "Suicide in the Trenches", in which the complacent home front is admonished: "...pray you'll never know/ The hell where youth and laughter go."

His immediate postwar years, though, were a succession of frivolous parties, empty homosexual affairs and - as John Stuart Roberts says in his biography, Siegfried Sassoon, 1886-1967 (Cohen, pounds 20), which he will read from on Tuesday - work that was "careful, neat and dead". While the war he hated had moulded the poet, the peace he longed for as surely killed that "stimulus of emotion" he needed.

Waterstone's, 32-40 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells (01892 535446) Tue, 7pm, free

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