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This review is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.

RETURN OF THE HERO? Charles Doyle, Richard Aldington: a Biography (Macmillan Press) £19.95

At the end of his turbulent and wounded life Richard Aldington was given shelter by an Australian and acclaimed by the Russians. This is his biography by a Canadian professor and it was printed in China. Global homage indeed for a man whose modest ambition was to become a good European.

Ich bin ein Aldingtonian. For those of us who grew up with him - who read Death of a Hero, All Men are Enemies and A Dream in the Luxembourg as and when they were published - the spell still lasts. He was our role-model and elder brother who could do no wrong: the man who knew everything and everybody, the poet who had survived the war and now enjoyed the uneasy peace in the company of beautiful women. The man who for a brief moment bridged effortlessly, through his great knowledge and sympathy, that eternal gap between England and the Continent.

He seemed overnight to become the expert on France. While still a student he introduced Remy de Gourmont to the English and even helped the old man financially in his last difficult days. It seemed the most normal thing in the world for Jean Paulhan of the NRF to lend our hero a Mediterranean island for his frolics.

All this considerably dazzled the youth of the day. In the lyrical prose of Hero and All Men - and the seductive vers libre of Dream - he struck exactly that note ...


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