Wednesday, November 02, 2005

General Haig

As C.S. Forester's The General is based on a composite of Field Marshal French and General Sir Douglas Haig, I deemed it appropriate to post a biography as well as some pictures in order to generate thinking about possible similarities between these men and the protagonist of the novel, Herbert Curzon. One can find a detailed biography of Sir Douglas Haig here, from a fairly comprehensive World War I website.
After conducting research on General Haig, I found a sense of appreciatation for Forester's characterization and eye for detail in his creation of Curzon and the subsequent actions he undertakes within the course of the novel. Although many historians and scholars continute to debate Sir Douglas Haig's decisions and course of action as a General, Forester's take on Sir Douglas Haig is certainly an interesting one- vivid in his conception of Haig, as well as of Field Marshal French. One must note that Forester is not attempting, with The General to state his opinion as a definate truth, as he states in the introduction to The General, "I was writing a novel, a self-proclaimed work of fiction, and fiction does not mean the truth, and certainly does not mean the whole truth and most certainly does not mean nothing but the truth" (Forester, xiii).
I believe that this is the key thought to keep in mind while reading The General, not to take a work of fiction and assume it to be an accurate, truthful testimony of history but to use it as a guide for thinking and learning about events and a culture and society we may not be familiar with.

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