NOW ALL ROADS LEAD TO FRANCE

Book number: 93585 Product format: Hardback Author: MATTHEW HOLLIS

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Bibliophile price £4.00
Published price £25


This biography of the last years of Edward Thomas's life places him among contemporaries including Lascelles Abercrombie, Eleanor Farjeon, Gordon Bottomley, Wilfrid Gibson and John Drinkwater. They all critiqued each other's work, competing for the attention of influential publishers such as Harold Monro, and the book also situates these poets in the context of emerging Modernism. Pound and T.S. Eliot were at the time viewed with incomprehension, and Monro dismissed Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" with the comment that it was "absolutely insane". Hollis's biography focuses on Thomas's friendship, interrupted by the War, with the American poet Robert Frost. Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken" is usually interpreted as a general lament for missed opportunities, but Frost himself regarded the poem as an intellectual tease: how can you evaluate a road not taken, and how can it make more difference than the road you did take? As a reflection on the pointlessness of regret it was a playful rebuke to the melancholy Thomas, who took the tease badly when it was explained to him. As Thomas developed as a poet his relationships became more turbulent, and his marriage to Helen came under repeated strain. One of his most moving poems is "No-one so much as you/Loves this my clay" from 1916, apparently addressed to Helen but possibly to Thomas's mother or even another woman. Thomas became close to Edna Clarke Hall when he was away on army training, and after Thomas's death Helen told Edna that she had envied her beauty. Above all, Thomas brought poetry to his experience of war, and just before his death in 1917 he wrote to Helen "the artillery is like a stormy tide - I simply watched the shells changing the landscape". 388pp, photos.

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ISBN 9780393089073

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