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Sitwell, Osbert

Entry updated 20 March 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1892-1969) UK poet and author whose siblings, Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) and Sacheverell Sitwell, have gained modestly in esteem compared to the posthumous fading of his reputation; though his own work was formally conventional, with his brother he was an influential proponent of Modernism, assembling more than one important exhibition. He was in active service throughout World War One, his complex understanding of the conflict being first articulated in some of the poems assembled as Argonaut and Juggernaut (coll 1919), which contains the first book publication of "The Next War" (21 September 1918 The Nation as by Miles), which envisions profiteers, decades after the Great War had ended, rushing into the streets to get another war under way:

The kindly old gentlemen cried
To the young:
___"Will you sacrifice
___Through your lethargy
___What your fathers died to gain?
___The world must be made safe for the young!"
And the children

Sitwell's sf fiction is of scattered interest. The Near Future title novella of Triple Fugue (coll 1924) posits a post-World War Three 1948 world in which Trotsky is President of Russia and lifespans have been trebled for the rich (see Immortality). The Man Who Lost Himself (1929) tells the complex psychological life-story of a man from his early years, during which the Great War affects him deeply, leading to a subsequent encounter with his future self and eventual death sometime after the middle of the twentieth century. Miracle on Sinai (1933), a discussion novel like several of H G Wells's from this period, is set in a luxury hotel near Mount Sinai and on the Mount itself, where a glowing cloud deposits new Tablets of the Law, which are variously interpreted; in the final chapter a cataclysmic war begins. Some work of interest appears in later titles. A Place of One's Own (1941 chap) is a ghost story; Open the Door: A Volume of Stories (coll 1941) and The Death of a God and Other Stories (coll 1949) contain work mostly of fantasy interest; the titular Demos the Emperor: A Secular Oratorio (1949 chap), "the bloated, flat group-ghost / Of all the Little Men in all the world," ruins civilization. Sitwell's early work is assembled in Collected Stories (coll 1953); the subsequent Fee Fi Fo Fum!: A Book of Fairy Stories (coll 1959) assembles Satires. [JC]

see also: Time Paradoxes.

Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell

born London: 6 December 1892

died Montegufoni, near Florence, Italy: 4 May 1969


collections and stories


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