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This article is taken from PN Review 172, Volume 33 Number 2, November - December 2006.

Re-weighing the Baby and Re-testing the Bathwater Trevor Tolley
A Response to James Keery's 'The Burning Baby and the Bathwater'

There are a number of related topics taken up in James Keery's provocative articles, 'The Burning Baby and the Bathwater'. Among them is the ostensibly overriding theme of the continuity and importance of Apocalyptic poetry in British literature of the 1940s. Keery offers 'a working definition of Apocalyptic poetry', utilising the concept of 'visionary modernism' from my book, The Poetry of the Forties: 'poetry written from the late 1930s onwards in the mode of visionary modernism and in particular on the theme of (im)mortality'. Associated with this is consideration of the relation of Dylan Thomas's poetry to Apocalyptic poetry and, more narrowly, to the Apocalypse movement of the late 1930s. A third topic was the exploration of the nature and foundation of the Apocalypse movement and a search for a manifesto of the movement other than the one given by Francis Scarfe in his book, Auden and After, in 1942.

The last of these projects takes up a great deal of Keery's space, though very profitably. His historical detective work probes with notable acumen the various accounts of incidents related to the origin of the Apocalypse movement. Indeed, his discussions of a missing 'manifesto' that Henry Treece tried to persuade Dylan Thomas to sign might seem at first encounter to be picking over tendentious detail; yet it is all vindicated in the very fortunate discovery of a 'Manifesto' in John Goodland's papers that seems ...


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