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The Return of the Soldier  

The Return of the Soldier

Written by: Rebecca West
Edited by: Bernard Schweizer and Charles Thorne

Series: Broadview Editions

Publication Date: September 21, 2010
240pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551115122 / 1551115123

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Due to copyright restrictions, this edition is available only in the United States.

The Return of the Soldier tells the story of a shell-shocked soldier who returns home from the First World War believing that he is in love with a working-class woman from his past, rather than married to his aristocratic wife. His family and doctor must decide whether to allow him to remain safely in his delusion, or to bring him back to reality and return him to the front. A brief novel with a seemingly simple plot, it is a classic of modernist literature and provides a point of entry into discussions of some of the twentieth century's most enduring themes.

Appendices include textual variants, patriotic and antiwar verse from World War I, war journalism by West, contemporary paintings and propaganda posters, and material on shell-shock.


"This new publication of a modern classic is a major literary event. For the first time, scholars and general readers have a reliable text of a masterpiece that has been poorly produced in previous editions. And how splendid to have specimens of significant World War I poetry to set beside the novel for the purpose of providing historical context and literary comparison. I can't wait to teach this superb text, complete with prose pieces of other authors, visual art, historical studies of the period, contemporary reviews, and an authoritative bibliography." - Carl Rollyson, Baruch College, The City University of New York

"One of Rebecca West's most teachable works, The Return of the Solider is set amid a rich grouping of contextual materials in this edition. Particularly strong are examples of World War I poetry, prose, artistic representations, posters, and West's own early essays. The editors are to be congratulated for offering a corrected text that overcomes many errors introduced in an American edition and compounded after its copyright expired. Helpful notes add to the text's accessibility." - Bonnie Kime Scott, San Diego State University

Bernard Schweizer is Associate Professor of English at Long Island University. Charles Thorne teaches English at Bergen Community College, New Jersey.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]



Rebecca West: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text

The Return of the Soldier

Appendix A: Textual Variants

Appendix B: World War I Poetry

  1. Rupert Brooke, "The Soldier" (1914)
  2. Jessie Pope, "The Call" (1915)
  3. Madeline Ida Bedford, "Munition Wages" (1917)
  4. Wilfred Owen, "Mental Cases" (1917)
  5. Wilfred Owen, "Disabled" (1920)
  6. Siegfried Sassoon, "The Death Bed" (1918)
  7. Siegfried Sassoon, "Does it Matter?" (1918)
  8. Amy Lowell, "September, 1918" (1919)
  9. Guillaume Apollinaire, "April Night 1915" (1918)
  10. Guillaume Apollinaire, "Platoon Commander" (1918)
  11. Max Jacob, "1914" (1923)
  12. Max Jacob, "War" (1923)
  13. T.S. Eliot, "Gerontion" (1920)
  14. Ezra Pound, from "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley" (1920)
  15. H.D, "8" (1916)
  16. Marianne Moore, "Reinforcements" (1921)
  17. Marianne Moore, "The Fish" (1921)

Appendix C: World War I Prose

  1. D.H. Lawrence, "With the Guns" (1914)
  2. Virginia Woolf, "The Mark on the Wall" (1917)
  3. Rebecca West, "Woman Worship: War, Peace and the Future by Ellen Key" (1917)
  4. Rebecca West, "Hands That War: The Night Shift" (1916)
  5. Robert Graves, from Goodbye to All That

Appendix D: World War I Visual Art

  1. C.R.W Nevinson "A Bursting Shell" (1915)
  2. Wyndham Lewis "A Battery Shelled" (1919)
  3. Paul Nash "We are Making a New World" (1918)
  4. William Roberts "Gunners Pulling Cannon, Ypres 1917"
  5. William Orpen "Zonnebeke" (1918)
  6. Propaganda Posters

Appendix E: "The Repression of War Experience" by W. H. R. Rivers (1918)

Appendix F: from The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen (1899)

Appendix G: Contemporary Reviews

Select Bibliography

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The Return of the Soldier

2010 • 240pp • Paperback • 9781551115122 / 1551115123

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.