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DAVID JONES" Admirers of David Jones as writer and artist are now numerous enough in Canada to support two conferences with readings and discussions of his work and four exhibitions in university libraries of his books, illustrations, and lettering in a little over a year. They will welcome the appearance of a new full-length study of his work and will be delighted to find it solid, helpful, and entirely free from mystification, pietism, stridency, or salesmanship. It will be part of their essential equipment, along with David Jones's own three books In Parenthesis, The Anathemata, and Epoch and Artist - and the superb special issue of Agenda (Spring-Summer 1967). A collection of the later writings is, I believe, to be expected; but I should like to see a selection of the watercolours and (most especially) the inscriptions di]jgently reproduced. After a largely biographical introduction Mr Blamires chooses to discuss the essays in which David Jones in more recent years has made clear the assumptions upon which he has been making his pictures and writings. The intellectual debt to Jacques Maritain and the friendly association with Eric Gill are well treated, and David Jones's own ideas are clearly outlined, perhaps a little too diagrammatically, since style and argument are fused. I wish I had space to quote, as I never tire of quoting, the passage from 'Art and Sacrament' on 'smelling a rat.' The chapters on The Visual Arts' and fIn Parenthe.sis' are valuable rather as exposition than as criticism, the first as a succinct compendium of infonnation on the number and nature of the watercolour drawings, the illustrations of books. and the inscriptions. the second for its sense of the shape of this greatest of modern war books (which is recognized as much more than a 'war book'). By the way, Mr Blamires observes that the wood engravings for the Golden Cockerel Press edition of Gulliver's Travels have been coloured by hand, but he does not report that this was not done at the artist's instance. Mr Jones showed me how to remove the colour, using a mouthwash named Milton. The heart of the study is to be found in the chapters on 'The Anathemata: 'The Work in Progress: and "The Arthurian World.' With great delicacy and in some detail Mr Blamires shows the way that Malory and Welsh poetry work to the surface as living forces in David Jones's imagination. Himself a professional student of language and literature (he is Senior Reader in German in the University of Manchester), he is particularly illuminating when he draws attention to the predominance of substantives over verbs in David Jones's word hoard. When it comes to vocabulary David Jones is liable to tax his readers to the uttermost. This is, of course, part and parcel of his substantival style, for there are more things and abstractions in the universe than actions and processes, each having its proper name and each name being capable of modification by an illimitable range of adjectives. David Jones is an inveterate userĀ· David Blamires, David. Jones: Artist and Writer. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1972. Pp. viii, 220. $10.00. of the less familiar strata of English words derived from Latin and Greek, but even this does not always give him sufficient scope for the precise nuance that he wishes to capture. In this position he resorts to other languages for a particular work, especially to W elsh, Latin and Greek, but also to French and German.' Always this resort is to the exact technical word, with all its reverberations. Through many of its pages this is an expository, necessarily pedestrian, study; but it gets there, and when in his conclusion Mr Blamires gives reasons for thinking T he Anathemata to be the successful 'poem contairung history' for our time and Pound's Cantos the unsuccessful, he should have most of his readers agreeing with him. In the Victoria and Albert Museum a metallic and hostile Wyndham Lewis drawing glares across a small gallery at a David Jones watercolour seemingly made of air. A much more painful incongruity occurs here: a sensitive and civilized book on a master...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 275-276
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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