The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West 1st / 1st 1918
London: Nisbet & Co. Ltd. (1918)First UK edition and first print in very good condition. The original publishers boards are bright and clean. There is a shade of sunning to the spine and one small mark to the front board. There is a previous owner’s inscription to the front free end paper and occasional spotting marks to the text block.
This is the author’s first novel (and second published works after her biography of Henry James). The novel recounts the return of the shell shocked Captain Chris Baldry from the trenches of the First World War from the perspective of his cousin Jenny. The novel grapples with the soldier’s return from World War I with mental trauma and its effects on the family, as well as the light it sheds on their fraught relationships.
The successful treatment of the traumatised returned soldier is a fundamental element of The Return of the Soldier. Unlike Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and other postwar novels which emphasise the lingering effects of war despite attempts at reintegration, The Return of the Soldier lends a certain optimism that the soldier can be reintegrated into society. West’s novel depicts war trauma as curable. The Novel was adapted onto the stage and eventually in 1982 onto the screen also.