Edward Thomas, A Language not to be Betrayed (Selected Prose) by Edna Longley (ed) - review by John Mole

John Mole

The Literary Life

Edward Thomas, A Language not to be Betrayed (Selected Prose)


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For Edward Thomas the literary life was addictive and an anathema. Many of us, I suspect, have discovered this in the same way; that is, by turning to his correspondence and to the autobiographies of his wife and Eleanor Farjeon after having been intimately moved by the poems. We have retraced the steps towards a destination, out of a curious feeling of kinship, and experienced a journey marked by passion, melancholy; frustration, extreme generosity, violent outbursts, candour and integrity. A life strangely complete in its profound restlessness, and of which the poetry is both the essence and the redemption.

What even the most cursory biographical browsing suggests is that the paradox of Thomas's nature was intensified by, and probably chose, the sheer weight of his freelance literary activity. He moaned endlessly about the commissions he needed in order to be able to pay the bills, and often disparaged them

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