Editor's note: The son of a four-time Sydney lord mayor, Frederic Manning was residing in England when war broke out in 1914. He enlisted in the British Army and endured the vicious trench warfare on the Western Front. This experience provided the basis of his novel The Middle Parts of Fortune (sometimes known as Her Privates We, the title of its expurgated version). Though much admired internationally - Ernest Hemingway thought it 'the finest and noblest book of men in war' - the novel was until recently neglected in Australia. Bourne, its autobiographical protagonist, is regarded as an oddity by his largely proletarian English comrades. "Not of their country...not even of their country...and only partially of their race', he's an erudite Francophile who betrays a streak of colonial irreverence and independence.
From Volume One, chapter five: pp 105-116
Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of
yOn the War-Path : An Anthology of Australian Military TravelOn the Warpath : An Anthology of Australian Military TravelRobin Gerster
Carlton:Melbourne University Press,2004Z11087882004anthology prose autobiography extract poetry criticism diary essay travel war literature 'This anthology reveals the many ways in which going to war has formed a cultural bridge between Australia and the world. From the Sudan in 1885 to Afghanistan in 2001, the connection of war to travel is illustrated by writers and reveals how the experience of war has both broadened and refined (and sometimes distorted) Australian views of the world.' From cover of On the War-Path : An Anthology of Australian Military Travel (2004)Carlton:Melbourne University Press,2004
'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.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)