Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land. Constantly shifting zone between the trenches of the opposing combatants on the French battlefront. This realm of fearsome devastation represents the nightmarish consequences of political blindness and the misapplication of technology. Soldiers struggling here face elemental agony, terror, and exhaustion, and George is transformed by this experience. Upon returning to London, he is appalled by the ignorance and superficiality of those who have not seen the war at first hand. The intense bitterness shared by George and the novel’s narrator is a pessimistic response to the naïve or egotistical optimism of Great Britain’s prewar generation. Although George learns to value comradeship in the trenches, he is also constantly reminded of the diminished value of human life in this environment. The tremendous strain of staying alive finally makes his life intolerable. No Man’s Land is a place of sudden fragmentation of life, of Nature, of architecture, and, finally, of George’s sanity, and its image dominates the novel as an emblem of the mindless suffering generated by human stupidity.

Hill 91

Hill 91. Hotly contested area of No Man’s Land marked by extreme devastation. George notes that possession of such areas is largely a matter of “prestige.”


*Dorsetshire. Rural county of southwest England that George and Elizabeth Winterbourne...

(The entire section is 591 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bergonzi, Bernard. Heroes’ Twilight: A Study of the Literature of the Great War. New York: Coward, McCann, 1966. Bergonzi devotes several pages of this readable and wide-ranging study to Death of a Hero, arguing that the novel suffers from the author’s lack of detachment from his subject.

Doyle, Charles. “Port-Cros and After, 1928-1929.” In Richard Aldington: A Biography. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989. Includes a substantial, balanced discussion of Death of a Hero, with critical commentary on its principal themes and literary merits. Acknowledges the stylistic flaws but argues that the novel was essential work to the “imaginative reconstruction” of the war.

McGreevy, Thomas. Richard Aldington: An Englishman. London: Chatto & Windus, 1931. McGreevy, a personal friend of Aldington, includes an extensive, if rather subjective, study of Death of a Hero. Focuses on the novel’s formal characteristics.

Morris, John. “Richard Aldington and Death of a Hero—or Life of an Anti-Hero?” In The First World War in Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Holger Klein. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1977. Judicious and attentive critique of the novel, with a particular focus on the problems of satiric tone.

Smith, Richard Eugene. Richard Aldington. Boston: Twayne, 1977. An accessible introduction to Aldington’s life and works. Includes a chapter on Death of a Hero and a useful bibliography of criticism to 1976.