The other man was the one who, back at home, and had time to think about the war never hesitated to say that, in the light of German peace overtures, what was happening to his friends and to his men was wrong."Dr Moorcroft Wilson refuses to be drawn upon Sassoon's sexuality, or indeed whether he was homosexual or bisexual other than "it was a great problem to him" and that his orientation may have changed over the years. Although he had affairs with men in the 1920s he did later meet and fall in love with a woman, Hester Gatty, and they had a son, George. Though the marriage ended in separation, it lasted for many years and they parted friends. We are in an age of protest, she says, and Sassoons's protest is very attractive today.Sassoon she believes was two people. One was an excitable young man caught up in the excitements of war such as exhilaration of patrolling at night in No Man's Land.
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Ironically, the law legalising sex between consenting adults was repealed in 1967, the year Sassoon died, his book unwritten. Even now, a biography authorised by the Sassoon estate has been bedevilled by disagreements over the same issue.Moorcroft Wilson is being cagey about her Sassoon. She says Caesar's Sassoon is "too black and white." Hers is more an icon for the 1990s - a "very brave man, yet one prepared to rip his Military Cross from his uniform and throw it into the River Mersey". He was taken prisoner in 1940 but escaped and reached Paris to photograph the Liberation.In 1947, together with Robert Capa, David Seymour and George Rodger, Cartier-Bresson formed Magnum, a loosely-structured co-operative picture agency, in which each member retained the copyright to the negatives. Capa was the adventurer, the gambler, the hedonist, while Cartier-Bresson was the cultivated introvert, the poet with a camera."These polar opposites created the agency," says Arnold. "It makes for a very vital operation." Cartier-Bresson's poetic style distils reality: his pictures are dense with meaning.
The interplay of chance, form and alertness to the emotion of a scene (to which he is so uniquely sensitive) combines to define the "decisive moment". It's the axiom of his work, this collision of intellect and intuition. As he wrote in his 1952 book, The Decisive Moment: "Composition is the result of a simultaneous coalition, the organic co-ordination of elements seen by the eye."That moment, for Cartier-Bresson, is a one-off: there can be no cropping, no retouching, no tampering to "improve" the geometrical relations in the picture "He's a purist," says Arnold "What he sees is what you get. He manages somehow to bind in nature: every move he makes, it's as if he had a dowsing stick."It's difficult to escape an appeal to the mystical in his work - an awe at how he achieved pictures of such vigour and richness. Surrealism obviously provided an early influence, but it is perhaps Buddhism that sheds most light on his modus vivendi. In 1953, Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel was published in French. It breaks down the distinction between archer and target, subject and object - instead, to hit the target you must empty yourself.