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Sherriff, R. C. The Fortnight in September

ISBN 13: 9781903155578

The Fortnight in September

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9781903155578: The Fortnight in September
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The Fortnight in September is by RC Sherriff, the author of
Journey's End (1929). Set during the First World War, it had no women in
it, no heroes and no love interest - it was about the hopes and fears of a
group of ordinary men waiting in a dug-out for an attack to begin. It was
based on Sherriff's own letters home, and its success was in part due to
his ability to recreate the trench experience exactly as he had lived it.

The Fortnight in September, written two years after Journey's End, shares
its emphasis on real people leading real lives. But the atmosphere could
not be more different, embodying as it does the kind of mundane normality
the men in the dug-out longed for - domestic life at 22 Corunna Road in
Dulwich, the train journey via Clapham Junction to the south coast, the
two weeks living in lodgings and going to the beach every day. The
family's only regret is leaving their garden where, we can imagine,
because it is September the dahlias are at their fiery best: as they flash
past in the train they get a glimpse of their back garden, where `a shaft
of sunlight fell through the side passage and lit up the clump of white
asters by the apple tree.' This was what the First World War soldiers
longed for; this, he imagined, was what he was fighting for and would
return to (as in fact Sherriff did).

He had had the idea for his novel at Bognor Regis: watching the crowds go
by, and wondering what their lives were like at home, he `began to feel
the itch to take one of those families at random and build up an
imaginary story of their annual holiday by the sea...I wanted to write
about simple, uncomplicated people doing normal things.'

Sherriff adds, in his memoir No Leading Lady (a few pages of which is
reprinted at the beginning of the Persephone edition of The Fortnight in
September): `The story was a simple one: a small suburban family on their
annual fortnight's holiday at Bognor: man and wife, a grown-up daughter
working for a dressmaker, a son just started in a London office, and a
younger boy still at school. It was a day-by-day account of their holiday
from their last evening at home until the day they packed their bags for
their return; how they came out of their shabby boarding house every
morning and went down to the sea; how the father found hope for the future
in his brief freedom from his humdrum work; how the children found
romance and adventure; how the mother, scared of the sea, tried to make the
others think she was enjoying it.'

The Fortnight in September was a very brave book to write because it was
not obviously `about' anything except the `drama of the undramatic'. And
yet the greatness of the novel is that it is about each one of us: all of
human lilfe is here in the seemingly simple description of the family's
annual holiday in Bognor.

Sherriff never mentions politics inThe Fortnight in September. But there
is a sense throughout the book that the Stevens' kind of ordinariness
might be under threat and that Sherriff is celebrating it while he can.
In this respect The Fortnight in September does indeed expresss `the
genius of a people', as the Spectator put it in 1931 when its reviewer
concluded: `Here is a subject which could have been treated satirically,
cleverly, patronisingly, sentimentally. But Mr Sherriff comes to it fresh,
and makes it universal. The sympathy with which each character is seen is
so perfect that even its pettiest details brings a lump into one's throat.
Many will welcome this book, which expresses the genius of a people.'

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Synopsis:

"The Fortnight in September" by RC Sherriff was published in September 1931. It was glowingly reviewed: 'A lovely novel,' declared the "Daily Telegraph", 'a little masterpiece' wrote the "Sunday Express". In America, the "Saturday Review of Literature" thought that 'nothing since Dickens has come closer to giving between covers the intrinsic spirit of England.' "The Spectator" reviewer said: 'There is more simple human goodness and understanding in this book than in anything I have read for years...Once more, the author of "Journey's End" has enriched our lives.' "Journey's End" (1929) is one of the great stage plays. Set during the First World War, it had no women in it, no heroes and no love interest - it was about the hopes and fears of a group of ordinary men waiting in a dug-out for an attack to begin. It was based on Sherriff's own letters home, and its success was in part due to his ability to recreate the trench experience exactly as he had lived it."The Fortnight in September", written two years after "Journey's End", shares its emphasis on real people leading real lives.

But the atmosphere could not be more different, embodying as it does the kind of mundane normality the men in the dug-out longed for - domestic life at 22 Corunna Road in Dulwich, the train journey via Clapham Junction to the south coast, the two weeks living in lodgings and going to the beach every day. The family's only regret is leaving their garden where, we can imagine, because it is September the dahlias are at their fiery best (hence the endpaper): as they flash past in the train they get a glimpse of their back garden, where 'a shaft of sunlight fell through the side passage and lit up the clump of white asters by the apple tree.' This was what the First World War soldier longed for; this, he imagined, was what he was fighting for and would return to (as in fact Sherriff did).He had had the idea for his novel at Bognor Regis (as in "Journey's End", and "The Hopkins Manuscript", Persephone Book No. 57, the physical setting is wonderfully evoked): watching the crowds go by, and wondering what their lives were like at home, he 'began to feel the itch to take one of those families at random and build up an imaginary story of their annual holiday by the sea...I wanted to write about simple, uncomplicated people doing normal things.

'Sherriff adds, in his memoir "No Leading Lady" (a few pages of which is reprinted at the beginning of the book): 'The story was a simple one: a small suburban family on their annual fortnight's holiday at Bognor: man and wife, a grown-up daughter working for a dressmaker, a son just started in a London office, and a younger boy still at school. It was a day-by-day account of their holiday from their last evening at home until the day they packed their bags for their return; how they came out of their shabby boarding house every morning and went down to the sea; how the father found hope for the future in his brief freedom from his humdrum work; how the children found romance and adventure; how the mother, scared of the sea, tried to make the others think she was enjoying it.'"The Fortnight in September" was a very brave book to write because it was not obviously 'about' anything except the 'drama of the undramatic'. And yet the greatness of the novel is that it is about each one of us: all of human life is here in the seemingly simple description of the family's annual holiday in Bognor. This is a book which fits fairly and squarely on the Persephone list.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781906462222: The Fortnight in September

Featured Edition

ISBN 10: 1906462224 ISBN 13: 9781906462222
Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd, 2017
Softcover

9781982184780: The Fortnight in September

Scribn..., 2021
Softcover

9780854681280: Fortnight in September

Imprin..., 1972
Hardcover

9780099095408: Fortnight in September

Arrow ..., 1975
Softcover

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