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This article is taken from PN Review 152, Volume 29 Number 6, July - August 2003.

'The Burning Baby' and the Bathwater (III) James Keery

5: `One Wet, Winter Evening'

In the previous issue of PNR, I showed, on the evidence of Dylan Thomas's letters, that the document he refused to sign on 31 December 1938 bore little resemblance to the slimline Apocalyptic manifesto reproduced by Francis Scarfe and subsequent critics. Historical accounts of the Apocalypse, variously derived from partial recollections by J.F. Hendry, Nicholas Moore and Henry Treece, are equally inconsistent. These sources comprise a study in complexity of motivation, but, in the light of other evidence, it is possible to construct a provisional narrative of the origins of the movement from a collation of their contents. Since many of my conclusions remain conjectural, and thus falsifiable, I have cited my sources in somewhat meticulous fashion. In the face of the critical heritage, with its excesses of panache and merriment, sheer pedantry becomes a sacred duty!

A year or two before his death in 1986, Hendry was interviewed by A.T. Tolley, guest-editor of `A special "Poetry of the Forties" edition' of Aquarius, which constitutes an indispensable supplement to his study of the decade.1 The interview is notable for Hendry's loyalty to the Apocalypse, maintained over forty years. His response to a generous closing question is an emphatic and courageous last word:

Q. I have the impression that you feel the ideas of the Apocalypse Movement, as expounded by you in essays like `Myth and Social Integration', have not in any way been discredited with the passage ...


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