(K. Brent Tomer),
David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet. By Thomas Dilworth. Counterpoint; 432 pages; $39.50. Jonathan Cape; £25.
THIS is a story of undeserved neglect, the first full telling of the life of a shy, awkward and generally poverty-stricken man who hid his light beneath a bushel and so neglected his appearance that he was often taken for a tramp. David Jones, who was born in 1895, was a poet and a painter; some regard him as the greatest painter-poet since William Blake. His achievements as a Modernist writer rank him alongside T.S. Eliot and James Joyce.
Jones grew up in south London, the son of a printer’s overseer. His childhood was Dickensian, his schooling fitful and he was often sick. But his knowledge of scripture was prodigious and his reading wide-ranging. From a young age Jones became passionately attached to the idea of Wales (his father was Welsh), and the wrong that had been visited upon the Celts by the English. The death of Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in 1282 not only put paid to the political identity of Wales; it would occupy the painter-poet’s thoughts for the rest of his…Continue reading