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War and the human personality

David Holbrook and D-Day

Flesh wounds appeared to mixed reviews (by the mid-1960s Holbrook was already gaining a reputation as a controversialist and acquiring adversaries in literary circles), but the novel had its champions from the start and has since come to be regarded as a classic of the literature of the Second World War. In this letter to ‘Denys’ (very likely his fellow critic and educationist Denys Thompson, 1907–1988), written soon after the book’s publication, Holbrook discussed the practical experience and psychological theories that underpinned the novel’s portrayal of men in battle and the effects of combat on the human personality.