Novelist, poet and biographer. Aldington was born in Hampshire and educated at Dover College and London University. He married the American poet Hilda Doolittle in 1913 (divorced 1937) and was a member of the group which introduced imagism. Richard Aldington began his literary career as a poet. His first collection of poems, Images 1910-1915, was published in 1915, and his Collected Poems appeared in 1928. In later years Aldington devoted himself more to prose and produced several deservedly successful novels: Death of a Hero (1929), The Colonel's Daughter (1931), which satirized English village life, All Men are Enemies (1933), Very Heaven (1937) and some other books.
During World War I Aldington served in the British Army. He suffered the effects of gas and shell-shock, and his powerful anti-war novel, Death of a Hero, constitutes a savage indictment of the social and intellectual climate of the pre-war era. The 'hero' is so disgusted by his corrupt and wasteful society that he invites his own death by exposing himself to enemy fire. The novel is dedicated to the so-called "lost generation". The core of Aldington's outlook is a deep-rooted disillusionment in a world seized by suicidal and homicidal madness. The novelist calls his book a threnody, a song of lamentation for the dead of the generation that went through the horrors of war.
After the end of the war he lived in London, in Italy, France and Switzerland. He became a residentof the USA in 1939.
Aldington also translated Julien Benda's La Trahison des Clercs as The Great Betrayal (1928). He compiled an anthology of D.H. Lawrence's prose, The Spirit of Place (1935); his biography of Lawrence, Portrait of a Genius, But... (1950) caused considerable controversy. His scathing opinion of Т.Е. Lawrence found expression in Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry (1955), which savaged commonly accepted interpretations of Lawrence's character and achievements. An autobiography, Life for Life's Sake, appeared in 1941, and his correspondencewith Lawrence Durrell, Literary Lifelines, was published posthumously in 1981.
Aldington treats his subject-matter as experienced by the sensitive nature of an artist, which makes the whole intensely humane and vividly passionate.
Some characteristic features of his style can be defined. The subtle lyricism, the rich imagery, the musical rhythm of the description turn the landscape into a passionate rhapsody. There are masterly touches in rich and vivid epithets. For the greater part the epithets are combined with metaphors. The richness of imagery is developed in effective similes. The manner in which individual words are chosen and combined into units of sound and meaning is extraordinarily impressive. The choice of words is remarkable for their sonorous quality. The alliterations make the text particularly musical. The emotional colouring is made definite by words naming or expressing emotions.
The syntactical structure helps to create a mood of enraptured contemplation, many sentences beginning with adverbials of place. This brings inversion, which slightly elevates the style. There are several cases where inversion is represented by the postposition of attributes. In these cases inversion is more definite, and its effect is to give a solemn ring to the whole. This is also enhanced by pauses introduced into some sentences (by the ellipsis of link-verbs or subjects) which make the rhythm more pronounced. Another feature also producing a rhythmical effect is the arrangement of attributes in pairs.
The refinement of learned classical allusions is also characteristic of Aldington. Aldington brings the contrast between the peaceful beauty of nature and the bitterness, avarice and despair in the world of men. The sharp contrasts, as well as the emphasis laid on the effect the transitory moment produces upon the heroes' senses, the refined metaphorical imagery comparing things in nature to man-made objects of luxury - all these combine to bring Aldington's word-painting close to the Impressionist school.
The lyrical intensity of Aldington's descriptions largely depends on the combination of the direct imagistic method, i.e. presenting things in a series of images almost physically palpable and real - with the author's own comments, bitter or sad.