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This review is taken from PN Review 59, Volume 14 Number 3, January - February 1988.

'THE SCREAMING LIFE OF ETERNITY' Denton Welch, Fragments of a Life Story, edited and introduced by Michael De-la-Noy (Penguin) £5.95
The Journals of Denton Welch, edited and introduced by Michael De-la-Noy (Allison & Busby) £14.95
Denton Welch, I Left My Grandfather's House, introduced by Michael De-la-Noy, (Allison & Busby) £7.95

The rehabilitation of Denton Welch - due largely to Michael De-la-Noy's editorial and biographical efforts - has completed the restoration from neglect that was Welch's own personal project. His precious writing, like the shattered and prematurely doomed life from which it grew, was dedicated to the protection of the fragile and to the preservation of the fleeting, to what he called the 'testing and tasting' of his own 'past and the world's past'. Since 'every moment passing is washing out its pain and happiness', the indelible sense of waste darkening his miniaturist canvases is fed by 'the sort of pain one feels when some beautifully-made and intricate thing is threatened'. Identifying totally with the delicate objets d'art he loved to collect - synecdoches of imperilled vulnerability - and storing up a mass of details recollected from memory, Welch experienced his own broken body as the paradigm of all such memento mori and as the matrix for his Fabergé fictions.

Exiled from the Arcadia of youth by being physically cheated of its 'beauty of ease and agility', Welch thus raced against time in order to reverse it, cataloguing - with a strictly literal nostalgia - the pain of returning home, even as it receded still further from him. And home was glimpsed over every horizon, whether in antique relics poised on the brink of dereliction, or in transient life at its freshest: passing children at play, Welch fixes them in the amber of his mind: 'They'll grow up ...


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