"novel" (in the Britannica); PLUS "diary" = memoir

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jul 17 20:24:12 UTC 2008

2005 _The New Encyclopaedia Britannica_ I 278: Allen, Hervey....Allen was wounded in World War I. The novel _Toward the Flame_ (1926) came out of his wartime experience.
Anyone with more than passing knowledge of Hervey Allen or the American literature of World War I knows that _Toward the Flame_ is nonfiction. Allen's 1926 preface even begins with the words, "I have tried to reproduce in words my experience in France during the great war. There is no plot, no climax, no happy ending to this book. It is a narrative, plain, unvarnished, without heroics, and true. It is what I saw as nearly as memory has preserved it."  .
Twenty-five years ago I'd have overlooked the Britannica's mistake as no more than that.  But this is now.
I notice further that the 1934 edition and reprints (same as '26 but with sketches and an additional prefatory note) is subtitled _A War Diary_.  But _Toward the Flame_ has not even the form of a diary. Allen states that the book was written in 1918-19 and then set aside. OED lacks the now fairly common publishing come-on sense, "a first-person narrative of past events." 

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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