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This report is taken from PN Review 236, Volume 43 Number 6, July - August 2017.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
AT THE END OF LAST WEEK John Goodby was at Cheltenham talking about recent important additions to the swollen archive of work on Dylan Thomas, for which he has been largely responsible. I know from previous experience his audience will have caught the air of fresh excitement he has generated in his study of the poet. He has explored aspects of Thomas’s work that earlier critics summarily dismissed, played down or else avoided, such as his debt and contribution to surrealism, in ‘The Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive: Dylan Thomas as Surrealist’, Dada and its Legacies (2012); perhaps more controversially, his centrality to the development of poetry in the 1940s and beyond as far as Hughes and Plath, with a reach into European and world literature that often goes unacknowledged; and his part in the revival of interest in Blake. The spread of Thomas’s influence was sometimes thought pernicious, or at best a romantic, obscure, sermonising style to escape from. Among probably scores of examples I think of Dannie Abse and John Ormond, close to home, who fell under the spell – but what an effect to grow creatively out of!

In 2013, Goodby published The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall, the first of his two major contributions to the centenary of the poet’s birth, which brings modern critical theory to bear on the oeuvre. Close study of Thomas’s poetic language at its densest has had mixed results. While he yet lived and for decades after his death in 1953, if a poem was ...


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