Passport to Hell

Passport to Hell

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Passport to Hell is the story of James Douglas Starka€”Starkiea€”and his war. Journalist and novelist Robin Hyde came across Starkie while reporting in Mt Eden Gaol in the 1930s and immediately knew she had to write his a€˜queer true terrible storya€™. The result was greeted by John A. Lee, war veteran, author and politician, as a€˜the most important New Zealand war book yet publisheda€™. Born in Southland and finding himself in early trouble with the law, the young Starkie tricked his way into a draft in 1914 by means of a subterfuge involving whisky and tea. In his subsequent chequered career in Egypt, Gallipoli, ArmentiAures, the Somme, Ypres, he showed himself a€˜a soldier and not a soldiera€™, with a a€˜contempt of danger and discipline alikea€™. Hyde took the raw horrors, respites and reversals of Starkiea€™s experiences and composed a work of literature much greater than a mere documentary of war. She portrays a man carousing in the brothels of Cairo and the estaminets of Flanders; looting a dead mana€™s money-belt and filching beer from the Tommies; attempting to shoot a sergeant through a lavatory door in a haze of absinthe, yet carrying his wounded captain back across No Mana€™s Land; a man recommended for the V.C. and honoured for his bravery a€“ but also subject to nine court martials. It is a portrait of a singular individual a€“ a€˜something of a visionarya€™, in Hydea€™s words a€“ who has also been described as the quintessential New Zealand soldier. And against the contradictory elements of Starkiea€™s character, Hyde shows a war machine that preaches a€˜Thalt shall do no murdera€™ one moment and sends men over the top the following day to kill. Robin Hyde was one of New Zealanda€™s true literary trailblazers, and in this book she redefined the parameters of novel and memoir. In its psychological acuity and emotional depth, Passport to Hell is one of the finest war books we have. Published to mark the centenary of this quintessential New Zealand war story, this newly reset edition includes Hydea€™s final authorized text from 1937 and an introduction and notes by D. I. B. Smith.These men and their Ring, almost as old in their meaning as the circle that is the symbol of infinity, are the stone that the builders of society have rejected. But in this one quality, their queer subterranean loyalty to one another, they are worthy anbsp;...

Title:Passport to Hell
Author: Robyn Hyde
Publisher:Auckland University Press - 2015-06-08

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