It can be good to start with a shipwreck. Your ideal authors ought to pull you from the foundering of your previous existence, not smilingly guide you into a friendly and peaceable harbor. Just as Llewellyn’s tale of Huw Morgan had upended my sense of the social scale, so the words of Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est” went off like a landmine under my concept of history and empire. The moment came in class. It was the turn of a very handsome boy named Sean Watson to read. As he stumbled his bored and boring way through the lines, I was consumed first by a sense of outrage, as if seeing somebody taking an axe to a grand piano. How could anybody be so brutish and insensitive? I wanted to wrench the book from his hands and declaim the poem. But then I found that this would not in fact be possible, because my eyes were blinded with stinging tears.