Owen, Walter

Tagged: Author

(1884-1953) Scottish translator, poet and author, who published his early poetry privately as by Gauthier de St Ouen, the only title surviving in general catalogues being The Sonnets of G S O: A Memorial (coll 1940); in 1902 he emigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and apart from occasional excursions elsewhere remained there for the rest of his life; he was a Theosophist (see Theosophy). His translations from the Spanish are highly regarded. His World War One novella, The Cross of Carl: An Allegory [for full subtitle see Checklist] (written 1917; 1931), transgresses more than once against generic expectations with a ruthlessness of Equipoise (a term rarely used in this encyclopedia to describe early twentieth-century works) that makes it a central text in the history of Fantastika Between the Wars. The brutally realistic Part One describes a minor skirmish in the war, after which the protagonist, taken for dead, is transported in Part Two – bound immovably into a fasces made up of dead companions – to a factory at the end of a siding where the corpses are due to be rendered into pig slop; the tone of this narrative uncannily prefigures World War Two and some industrial aspects of the Final Solution (see Holocaust Fiction). Escaping from this "Golgotha", the protagonist buries himself in a shallow grave, being aroused by the German Kaiser and an Allied Marshal, who are travelling amiably together. Together they kill the protagonist: which is to say they finish their mutual job of slaughter.

Owen's second novel, "More Things in Heaven ..." (1947) is an extremely complicated occult tale involving a case of spontaneous human combustion (see Scientific Errors), a Zoroastrian curse laid against the descendants of Alexander the Great, a mysterious figure known as Merlin (see Secret Masters), and a secret history of the world. [JC]

Walter Hubbard Owen

born Glasgow, Scotland: 14 July 1884

died Buenos Aires, Argentina: 24 September 1953

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