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Set in the mud and stench of the Somme this is a grim, sardonic tale of war that led William Boyd to say 'this is the finest novel to come out of the First World War'
Frederic Manning was born in Sydney in 1882. As a teenager he went with his tutor to England, where he eventually settled for most of his adult life. Manning began his career as a writer and poet in Britain with a narrative poem, Vigil of Brunhild (1907), Poems (1910) and Scenes and Portraits (1909), a collection of short historical fiction. His work won him considerable attention and acclaim. He was also the principal reviewer for the Spectator and forged a wide circle of literary friends and acquaintances. When the First World War broke out Manning failed to pass officer training but enlisted anyway and was sent to France in 1916, where he fought in the Battle of the Somme and was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. In 1929 he published The Middle Parts of Fortune under the pseudonym Private 19022, due to the book's shocking content. The book was highly praised by his contemporaries. Manning died in Hampstead in 1935.
It is the finest and noblest book of men in war that I have ever
read. I read it over once each year to remember how things really
were so that I will never lie to myself nor to anyone else about
them -- Ernest Hemingway
The most truthful and profound exploration of the experiences of war...is to be found in The Middle Parts Of Fortune... Manning explored the moral ambiguities of war in the language of the men with whom he served. He articulated the suffering and comradeship of men who might have no other literary record * Guardian *
Realism and art combined * Sydney Morning Herald *
Manning's literary masterpiece * Sydney Morning Herald *
Without doubt the greatest British novel of the war * Independent *