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Het lied van de loopgraven by Sebastian…

Het lied van de loopgraven (original 1993; edition 2008)

by Sebastian Faulks

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4,905136937 (4.01)404
Title:Het lied van de loopgraven
Authors:Sebastian Faulks
Info:Amsterdam Prometheus 2008

Work details

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (1993)

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» See also 404 mentions

English (133)  Dutch (3)  All (136)
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
This book has won all sorts of accolades since it came out and was voted as one of Britain's top 10 books of all time. I thought the prose was strong and the descriptions of France in both peace and war were expertly done. But I found myself unconvinced by Stephen as a character, who never had as much presence or life as I wanted and was ultimately unlikable in a vague way. He couldn't carry the novel for me, and as the protagonist that was a problem. I found the characters revolving around Stephen to almost invariably be more interesting than he was. I would've liked to have read this from Jack's perspective, for example. But the WWI scenes were absolutely horrific and made the reader present and witness in a startling way. What an awful war. Ultimately, however, I feel somewhat blaise about this book, it just didn't work as an overall piece of literature for me.
  wintersdoor | Jul 2, 2017 |
Birdsong is really 2 stories in one.... One about Stephen Wraysford, a twenty year old boy working in France, falling in love with all the troubles that entails (a historical romance), then going to war and describing the brutality both above the ground and below it... very detailed ( military historical)....

Then the scene moves forward about 60 years about story of a woman, Elizabeth, who wants to discover what her grandfather was like... she has boxes of memorabilia and journals written in code but little else and of course a romance on her own (back to historical romance again).

It seems to be a dichotomy that is hard to resolve at first but it works and in the end a lot of loose ends are tied up nicely.

Slow to start (not a great fan of historical romance) but once the war starts it is hard to put down... a very good read ( )
  Lynxear | May 22, 2017 |
I was initially quite disappointed with this book, which I had heard was wonderful. However, I changed my mind after the book got to the part where the war started. I don't know why, but for some reason I am fascinated by books about World War I and how soldiers survived it. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
A powerful, graphic, and poignant account of the First World War as told from the perspective of two central characters on the frontline as well as the granddaughter of one of the characters, who pieces together the central character's story from his writings on the frontline. Gripping, readable, literary – I could not recommend this book highly enough (although the opening chapters of the book are strongly sexual: you've been warned).

One of the most powerful moments in the book, for me, was the starkly depicted difference between the nihilistic carnage of the brokenness of war and the unifying sense of peace and longing for forgiveness that the central character's return to his home brings – a desire for eschatological unity. On the battlefield, the army chaplain chucks his cross away on the battlefield, giving up any kind of hope in his deity in the face of complete human corruption. This compared with Stephen's longing for unity, peace, and, ultimately, redemption when he walks on home soil for a break before heading back to the French battlefield. Here's a snippet of how Stephen feels when he returns home: ''He wanted to stretch out his arms and enfold them in the fields, the sky, the elms with their sounding birds; he wanted to hold them with the unending forgiveness of a father to his prodigal, errant but beloved son, Isabelle and the cruel dead of the war; his lost mother, his friend Weir: nothing was immoral or beyond redemption, all could be brought together, understood in the long perspective of forgiveness. As he clung to the wood, he wanted also to be forgiven for all he had done; he longed for the unity of the world's creation to melt his sins and anger, because his soul was joined to it. His body shook with the passion of the love that had found him, from which he had been exiled in the blood and the flesh of long killing' (p. 363).

Self-sacrifice is so often a theme in great literature – and yet again this book depicts the death of one of its central characters as dying on his own cross, while asking that he be taken off it. Of course, the character who dies underground (Jack) does not actually die on his own cross, but simply recalls in a hallucinatory soliloquy his days mining on the Underground, and asks that he be taken off the cross which created the old cut-and-cover tubes of today. The author is made to feel that he is rabbiting on about a load of rubbish and that he has lost his mind, but in fact, he touches upon a sobering thought. While he has willingly fought in battle for his country, at the end it all feels so pointless. What a waste: 'take me off this cross'.

Moments later, as the book comes to an end, Faulks splashes a note of hope across the final pages with talk of new life and new hope, of the aforementioned forgiveness which Stephen longed for on his return to home soil. This time on the actual battlefield, as Stephen and the German search party which finds him forgive one another with arms outstretched in a loving embrace. The final chapter leaves us with new birth, new hope, and a new generation: one which Faulks, and I also, hope will not repeat the same grievous errors.

Powerful, highly recommended reading. ( )
1 vote m-andrews | Jan 5, 2017 |
The WWI sections were really good, but Faulks' women are one-dimensional. Elizabeth's (the granddaughter) sudden desire to learn about her grandfather and the war wasn't believable and the depiction of her desire and need for children was for me, kind of misogynistic. As was the depiction of Jeanne who magically fell in love with Stephen. If this book was without with 1978 parts I would have enjoyed it more. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sebastian Faulksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davids, TinkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Firth, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perria, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'When I go from hence, let this be my parting word, that what I have seen is unsurpassable.' Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali
For Edward
First words
The boulevard du cange was a broad, quiet street that marked the eastern flank of the city of Amiens.
Madame Azaire had not fully engaged Stephen's eye
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Wikipedia in English


Book description
Published to international critical and popular acclaim, this intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. As the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford passes through a tempestuous love affair with Isabelle Azaire in France and enters the dark, surreal world beneath the trenches of No Man's Land. (0-679-77681-8)
Haiku summary
Brave soldiers digging
claustrophobic tunnels. Trench
warfare on both sides.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679776818, Paperback)

Readers who are entranced by the sweeping Anglo sagas of Masterpiece Theatre will devour Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks's historical drama. A bestseller in England, there's even a little high-toned erotica thrown into the mix to convince the doubtful. The book's hero, a 20-year-old Englishman named Stephen Wraysford, finds his true love on a trip to Amiens in 1910. Unfortunately, she's already married, the wife of a wealthy textile baron. Wrayford convinces her to leave a life of passionless comfort to be at his side, but things do not turn out according to plan. Wraysford is haunted by this doomed affair and carries it with him into the trenches of World War I. Birdsong derives most of its power from its descriptions of mud and blood, and Wraysford's attempt to retain a scrap of humanity while surrounded by it. There is a simultaneous description of his present-day granddaughter's quest to read his diaries, which is designed to give some sense of perspective; this device is only somewhat successful. Nevertheless, Birdsong is an unflinching war story that is bookended by romances and a rewarding read.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Rootless and heartbroken Stephen Wraysford joins the army at the outbreak of World War I. He and his men are given the assignment to tunnel under the German lines and set off bombs. The comaraderie, love, and loyalty of the soldiers contrasts with the horrors of the underground, air, and trench warfare.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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