In Parenthesis: in praise of the Somme’s forgotten poet

David Jones, Lourdes, 1928, Kettle's Yard_mainOwen Sheers at The Guardian:

In his introduction, TS Eliot hailed In Parenthesis as “a work of genius”. Graham Greene placed it “among the great poems of the century”. WH Auden claimed “it does for the British and Germans what Homer did for the Greeks and Trojans”; he wrote to Jones to tell him “your work makes me feel very small and madly jealous”. On entering a party and seeing Jones sitting in the corner, WB Yeats bowed low to “salute the author of In Parenthesis”.

Perhaps the most considered response came from Herbert Read, an ex‑solider himself, whose reviews of In Parenthesis are shot through not just with admiration, but also a sense of gratitude. “For the first time,” he wrote, “all the realistic sensory experiences of infantrymen have been woven into a pattern which, while retaining all the authentic realism of the event, has the heroic ring which we associate with the old chansons de geste … a book which we can accept as a true record of our suffering and as a work of art in the romantic tradition of Malory and the Mabinogion.”

Read’s acknowledgment of In Parenthesis’s ability to simultaneously contain the contemporary and the ancient, the literary and the demotic, the realistic and the mythic, and of the “pattern” underpinning its whole, are key to understanding the power of Jones’s achievement.

more here.