Testament of Youth
When I was a sophomore in college, still just majoring in English and government, I took a cross-curricular English/History class on the female voice. I was already leaning towards adding another major, always wistfully eyeing the history courses. In the end, it was one class and one text that pushed me to make that move, to add another major to an already busy schedule. One of the texts on the syllabus was Vera Brittain’s ‘Testament of Youth’. It was a hefty text, and trust me, I was used to buying enormous law books and English tomes. But I loved the course, and about 10 minutes into reading my assigned pages for class, I was utterly engrossed. I stayed up reading the whole book, in spite of having an early class the next morning, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to do so. To try to sum it up is impossible, so I can only say what it was to me: empowering, heartbreaking, formative, and defining. Vera Brittain’s story is, of course, the story of a particular generation, but it’s more than that. It is a seminal work that should be read so that we do not forget the lessons learned from in the Great War, but it’s also a beautiful and perfect picture of a life, a time, and a beautiful mind working its way through big questions.
There’s a new film version of ‘Testament of Youth’ coming out this year, and while I will actually make it to the cinema to watch this one, what I really hope is that it will cause a new generation of people to pick up this remarkable book. Also , doesn’t Jon Snow clean up well?