Mary Borden’s ‘The Preface’

Having discussed upon ‘The Preface’ of Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone, I just wanted to add on something that I thought of whilst reading it, and how it relates somewhat to Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

Where Borden states that she has ‘blurred the bare horror of facts and softened the reality in spite of myself, not because I wished to do so, but because I was incapable of a nearer approach to the truth’, it reminded me of Paul’s return home on leave. Paul had an inability to tell his mother of the true horrors that he had witnessed at the Front, partly as it was too painful for even him to do so, but also because he did so to protect her. He is shielding her mind in the same way that Borden had to shield hers. Paul instead provided his family with ‘a softened reality’, much like Borden, as he simply could not bring himself to, unbearably so.

Also, the fact that the Preface ends with the statement that ‘all the rest can never be written’ also pertains to the idea that it would be simply too unmanageable to speak upon the debacles of the Front. There is almost a shared and unspoken belief among those that had seen what World War One was truly like. Nellie also could not speak on them, and such is the reason why her and Roy are able to connect so well: they understand what each of the other has gone through, and no words are necessary to speak of their experiences. It is something that those who did not take part in can truly understand, and those that did are only able to provide a fragment of the truth to us.

170 thoughts on “Mary Borden’s ‘The Preface’

  1. The writting of the truth of the war reminds me of the diary/journal entries we read the other week, I believe that was the Aldington stuff. The writing of what happened causes the writer PTSD and distress, while it could also really mentally mess with the reader. Imagine if someone from the war picked up a war book. That would be very triggering for them if it was very explicit. I do like how you compared Borden to Paul and how he does not tell the horrific truth in order to protect both his mom and himself. I think Borden is trying to educate others while trying to protect not only herself but the men and women who experienced the war very closely.

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