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Why Was I Killed?

Rex Warner
Date Published
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In this moving and thought-provoking novel, the spirit of a dead soldier asks: ‘Why was I killed?’. From each individual he questions, he receives a different answer. The English gentleman, the mechanic, the priest, the mother robbed of her son, the man who fought in Spain – for each of these people the war in which the soldier lost his life has a different meaning.

Whether they believe it to be a pointless horror, an outcome of sinister politics, or an inevitable aspect of history, each of these individuals feels himself to have been cruelly robbed by war. But the soldier’s own vision and revelation at the moment of his death offers an alternative interpretation of the consequences of war. Highly acclaimed when it was first published in 1943, Why Was I Killed? will continue to be relevant as long as humans go to war.

‘A striking and rare work of imagination.’ Edwin Muir

‘The beauty of his prose, unsurpassed by any living English writer . . . springs from a sound moral core and from an intelligence which operates with the keenest edge upon our prejudices, our swollen abstractions, our confused thinking.’ C. Day Lewis


Reginald Ernest [Rex] Warner (1906-1986) was a poet, novelist, classicist and translator. While studying classics and English at Oxford, he became involved with a group of young writers including W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis. After leaving Oxford he was a teacher and travelled in Egypt before publishing his first novel in 1937, The Wild Goose Chase. He was…

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