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ELTON, Godfrey.

The Testament of Dominic Burleigh.

Edited by Godfrey Elton.

Published: London: George Allen & Unwin, 1925

Stock code: 104603

Price: £150

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First edition, first impression, inscribed on the front free endpaper, “Rodney with love from the author, 12..iii.56”. The author was Godfrey Elton, 1st Baron Elton (1892-1973) a historian who other than this extraordinary work wrote no fiction. The Testament of Dominic Burleigh is a pseudonymous fiction invented by its supposed editor, who claims to have received a typescript from an old acquaintance whom he and the rest of the world had thought dead, Dominic Burleigh, Oxford undergraduate, brilliant poet, D.S.O., killed in action. He was not killed, however, but survived by desertion, and his “Testament” is a scarifying public self-deconstruction that attempts to debunk all the eulogiac claims of his obituaries, and by extension to decry the hypocrisy of public life, and force men and women “to see in their own hearts the thing which is; the thing which is like a beast crouching patiently in the jungle, and, unless they have had the courage to look it steadily in the eye, one day must spring out upon them unawares, as it sprang on me.” Elton himself served in the First World War, joining the 4th Hampshire Regiment in Spring 1914 and fighting in Mesopotamia. He was wounded at the siege of Kut-el-Amara, and after its fall in April 1916 was taken prisoner by the Turks. After the war he was elected a fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford, in 1919 (and became dean 1921-3), and lectured in modern history 1919-39. In his later political career he was raised by Ramsay Macdonald to the Labour peerage.

Octavo. Original yellow cloth, title label to spine (spared label tipped in at rear). With the dust jacket. Spine slightly rolled, nicks to tips, otherwise a bright, fresh copy in excellent condition, in the spine-tanned jacket with small chips to corners.

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