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JACOMB, Charles Ernest.

Torment (A Study in Patriotism).

London: Andrew Melrose, Ltd., 1920 Stock Code: 144552
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First and only edition of this "impressive" and "remarkable book" (The Bookman), an account of the author's services on the Western Front, this copy inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper; "Miss G. R. Wells, with compliments from the author and in gratitude especially for the great given in writing this book. Charles E. Jacomb, 13/4/20".

Jacomb (1888-1961) is probably best remembered, in Australia, for his "extraordinarily negative and derisive assessment" of the country, God's Own Country; An Appreciation of Australia (1914), based on his time working on his family's fruit farm at Mildura (biographical details from the University of Queensland, AustLit). Having spent six years there he returned to London in time to enlist for service in the First World War, joining the 23rd Royal Fusiliers. Wounded on the Somme he was invalided out and spent the remainder of the war on home service. Running counter to "both historical and literary critical orthodoxy hold that unfavourable British literary responses to the First World War did not materialise until Journey's End and the war-books controversy of 1930", Jacomb offers a highly critical "detailed and specific account of the enlisted men's experience of army organisation" (Beecham, "Fiction and memoir of Britain's Great War:disillusioned or disparate?", in European Review of History, 22:5, p. 801). The Bookman's reviewer was at pains to stress Jacomb's lack of sensationalism, his "scrupulous attempt to be honest and fair", however "the cumulative effect of these humdrum or poignant trifles and tragedies is positively appalling, for such an indictment against our army system, and that by one of its humblest units, we never expected to read". Jacomb dedicates the book "To Tommy, you can't beat him".

Between the wars Jacomb worked as a financial journalist on the Daily Mail, and in 1939 he reenlisted, obtaining a commission as lieutenant and rising to captain before the conclusion of hostilities. He was the author of two books other than his Australian and military exposés, a study in music theory Violin Harmonics: What are They and How do they Work (Strad Library, 1924), and And a New Earth (Routledge, 1926), a "Utopian" novel of eugenic speculation. The present work is a scarce and intriguing addition to the genre of Great War autobiographies from the ranks.

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Octavo. Original moderate green combed cloth, title in pale yellow wartime "gilt" within a ruled frame to both spine and the front board. With the green-grey typographical dust jacket.


A little chafed and bumped at the extremities, cheap paper-stock browned overall and spotted in places, portrait of the author from The Bookman mounted on the front pastedown, the review mounted verso of the front free endpaper and upper portion of the half-title, author's biography to the rear endpapers; the jacket rubbed, through at the corners and chipped head and tail of the spine, old amateur internal gummed paper reinforcement at the edges and folds, but largely complete and presents reasonably, overall very good.


Uncommon, just 8 copies on Library Hub.


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