The drumming of the guns continued, with bursts of great intensity. It was as though a gale streamed overhead, piling up great waves of sound, and hurrying them onwards to crash in surf on the enemy entrenchments. The windless air about them, by its very stillness, made that unearthly music more terrible to hear.
First published anonymously in 1929 because its language was considered far too frank for public circulation, The Middle Parts of Fortune was hailed by T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, by Lawrence of Arabia and Ernest Hemingway, as an extraordinary novel. Its author was in fact Frederic Manning, an Australian writer who fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and who told his story of men at war from the perspective of an ordinary soldier. Never before published in Australia, The Middle Parts of Fortune is now recognised as a twentieth-century classic.
About the Author
Frederic Manning was born in Sydney in 1882. In 1903 he joined Arthur Galton, a former tutor and lifelong friend, in his English vicarage, and set out on a literary career, publishing polite poetry, essays, reviews and stories.
His subsequent experience in the army and in the appalling trench warfare at the Somme and at Ancre informed his great novel The Middle Parts of Fortune which was anonymously published in 1929. Stripped of the profanities of Manning's 'fine fuckin mob' of soldiers, an expurgated edition appeared in 1930 under the title Her Privates We. It became an immediate bestseller. Frederic Manning died in England in 1935.
"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."
"A classic of enduring validity. I am glad he was an Australian, for this is a profoundly democratic book. I know of no story of the first world war which is so effectively written, not only from the ranks, but from the point of view of the ranks it remains, with Richard Mahony, almost alone among the products of Australian writers."
Australian Book Review
"No praise could be too sheer for this book. It justifies every heat of praise. Its virtues will be recognised more and more as time goes on."
Lawrence of Arabia
"A wise book among the most thoughtful novels of the war."
New York Times Book Review