The war left one with two memories, as I am sure every outspoken soldier of it will agree, that were always recurring: one, when one was faced with the worst moments it had to offer; the other, when the bottle went round as madly and merrily as ever it did in times of peace. It was only because these black and red threads were interlaced in fairly equal proportions that the experiences of the war were not intolerable.
The great value of ceremonial observances was made clear to me on this affecting occasion. We have often, one time and another, left ten times the number of dead on the field and yet not been so deeply touched by the loss as we were that day beside the open graves.
It has always been my ideal in war to eliminate all feelings of hatred and to treat my enemy as an enemy only in battle and to honour him as a man according to his courage. It is exactly in this that I have found many kindred souls among British officers. It depends, of course, on not letting oneself be blinded by an excessive national feeling, as the case generally is between the French and the Germans.
Much as I am the disciple of the logical gospel of force, I was disgusted by the painful exaggerations of it I witnessed in those days, such as the compulsion upon all inhabitants, women included, to salute officers. Such regulations are pointless, degrading, and injurious. Such was our method, however, all through the war. Punctilious over trifles, undecided in the fate of the severest injuries from within.
All the same, an officer should never be parted from his men in the moment of danger on any account whatever. Danger is the supreme moment of his career, his chance to show his manhood at its best. Honour and gallantry make him the master of the hour. what is more sublime than to face death at the head of a hundred men? Such a one will never find obedience fail him, for courage runts through the ranks like wine.
At the same time I had no fear. For I felt that I was not seen, and I could not believe that any one aimed at me or that I should be hit. Indeed, when I rejoined my section I surveyed our front with complete calm. It was the courage of ignorance.
But finally we were so accustomed to the horrible that if we came on a dead body anywhere on a fire-step or in a ditch we gave it no more than a passing thought and recognized it as we would a stone or a tree....
Though the Belgians had plenty of room in their houses, our company was, from false scruples, stuck in a great draughty barn, with the raw sea winds of that district blowing through it in those cold March nights. It was always: 'Belgium must not be treated as the enemy's country.' That was a very natural consideration to show; but when once the military necessity of marching through it had been accepted, it was absurd to boggle over the petty consequences.
After a short while with the regiment we had pretty well lost the illusion with which we had set out. Instead of the dangers we had hoped for, only mud and work and sleepless nights had fallen to our lot, and the conquest of these called for a heroism that was little to our taste.
Lud-in-the-Mist has proved to be one of the most difficult, but overwhelmingly clever readings I've ever approached. On this first reading, I doubt that I will understand the full scope that this book covers, and the possible meanings contained therein. However, there are still several different themes and ideas presented which were obvious enough for me to pick up on and appreciate.
The method of naming is particularly interesting. For example, Nathaniel Chanticleer is a reference to a rooster, a bird which cries to awaken the world. Willy Wisp, a Puck-like character, is a clear reference to [Will-o'-the-wisp] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wik... Will-o'-the-wisp). Duke Aubrey is related to the fairy king from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon. These an other specific word usages add a layer of meaning to Lud-in-the-Mist that might not be obvious at first. Take, for instance, the very name of Nathaniel's home: Lud-in-the-Mist. Lud is the originating word for London.
There is no clear antagonist in this book. Rather, the book seems to be a study on an entire community's reaction to trauma and the use of law to repress any memory of that trauma. Fairy fruit, for example, according to law, is nothing but silk. If a mayor is to be taken from his post, the only way to do so is to officially declare him dead. Coincidentally, the fairies who live to the west are often referred to as dead men, or silent people.
Lud has a distinct social hierarchy of country versus town people, and upper crust versus lower class.
One of the most significant images used in Lud-in-the-Mist is that of the note which Nathaniel hears as a child. Nathaniel is terrified of the note and he hears in many things as he ages. What exactly is the note is something of a mystery. Does the note represent death? Emotion? The connection of Lud to the fairies? Lost opportunity?
Moreso than any other book I've read recently. I have trouble piecing together any cohesive meaning behind Lud-in-the-Mist. The book begins and ends with references to an epitaph, first that of a baker and finally that of Nathaniel himself. The narrator claims that this is "but another proof that the Written World is a Fairy" (p. 239) and warns that readers be wary of such words: as they lie and mislead like the character of Willy Wisp. Is Lud-in-the-Mist a warning against believing everything you read? Against a wasted life filled without the wonders and emotions brought on by fairy fruit? I'm really not sure.
"Up in a dead town. I didn't think I'd find him. I didn't intend looking him up. I don't know what he was doing there. I've been living in a little valley town for about a week, learning how to read the ancient books and looking at their old art forms. And ne day I saw this Martian. he stood there for a moment and then he was gone. He didn't come back for another day. I sat around, learning how to read the old writing, and the Martian came back, each time a little nearer, until on the day I learned how to decipher the Martian language--it's amazingly simple and there are picturegraphs to help help you--the Martian appeared before me and said, 'Give me your boots.' And I gave him my boots and he said, 'Give me your uniform and all the rest of your apparel.' And I gave him all of that, and then he said, 'Give me your gun,' and I gave him my gun. Then he said, 'Now come along and watch what happens.' And the martian walked down into the camp and he's here now."