Lewis, Cecil: Sagittarius Rising.

Lewis, Cecil - Sagittarius Rising. Folio Society, 2000, 3rd impression.

At the age of seventeen, in the second year of the Great War; Cecil Lewis joined the Royal Flying Corps. At this time, the average service life of a pilot was just three weeks, but he remained in action for three years. He survived the war, and went on to become (among many other things) a flying instructor in China, and to live his eventual ninety-eight years to the full. He reflects on the early years here: dogfighting with 'The Hun' over the Somme, dive-bombing ammunitions supply units behind enemy lines, and, in one particularly haunting passage, witnessing the birth of clouds, five miles above the bloody battlefields. At the end of a day's flying, safe behind their own lines, pilots high on the day's dangers would make 'Shampoos', a mixture of champagne and whisky, and serve it up on each other's head with sponges. Lewis's celebration of the devil-may-care heroism of youth transmits all the adrenaline and excitement of the young pilots, flying into battle when any day could have been their last. (Folio Society).

9" x 6ΒΌ", 246pp plus 14 plates (6 of which form 3 double-page spreads); three-quarter (back, spine and 'quarter' front) dark yellow-green cloth, rest of front board coverd with 'grey' cloth printed with a monochrome illustration (a repeat of one of the plates), spine blocked with lettering in red, white and blue, hardback. Illustrated in monochrome with a portrait frontispiece photograph and drawings by C. R. W. Nevinson.

Probably unread; fine; complete with slip-case.


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