In Parenthesis by David Jones / ISBN 9781590170366 / 232-page paperback from New York Review of Books Classics
Used copy, light shelfwear only.
"This writing has to do with some things I saw, felt, and was part of": with quiet modesty, David Jones begins a work that is among the most powerful imaginative efforts to grapple with the carnage of the First World War, a book celebrated by W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot as one of the masterpieces of modern literature. Fusing poetry and prose, gutter talk and high music, wartime terror and ancient myth, Jones, who served as an infantryman on the Western Front, presents a picture at once panoramic and intimate of a world of interminable waiting and unforeseen death. And yet throughout he remains alert to the flashes of humanity that light up the wasteland of war.
David Jones (1895-1974) was born in Kent. His mother was a Londoner, his father, who worked as a printer’s overseer, came from an old Welsh family, and Jones was to say that “from about the age of six, I felt I belonged to my father’s people and their land, though brought up entirely in an English atmosphere.” At six, too, Jones discovered his passion for drawing, which he knew was the “one thing he could do.” He attended art school for some years, but in 1915 he was sent with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers to fight in France, where he was in the battles of the Somme and Ypres. Jones converted to Roman Catholicism in 1921, and in 1922 began a long association with the artist, designer, and writer Eric Gill. In Parenthesis, based on Jones’s experiences in World War I, was published in 1937, followed in 1952 by another, even more unclassifiable but indubitably major work, The Anathémata. The Sleeping Lord, fragments from an unfinished larger composition about the crucifixion, appeared in the last year of his life. David Jones’s drawings and paintings can be found in the collections of the Tate Museum, the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, and the National Museum of Wales.