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This review is taken from PN Review 7, Volume 5 Number 3, April - June 1979.

THE LABYRINTH OF TIME David Jones, The Kensington Mass (Agenda Editions).

This is the final, posthumously published work of a very important English poet. As such, it received rather less than its due when it appeared a couple of years ago. One memorable review in the Sunday press actually compared David Jones with Ronald Firbank. The precise point of comparison now escapes me, as it must have most sane men, but its grotesque, insulting nonsense was a further indication of how little assimilated and understood the author of In Parenthesis, The Anathemata and The Sleeping Lord still is. Nobody, I think, would claim The Kensington Mass is the most significant of Jones's works, or that it would be the right place for a newcomer to begin; but, as the parting song of the man who wrote those splendid earlier poems, it deserves a more fitting acknowledgement.

The poem, such as we have it, is quite obviously the work of an old man, cut off by circumstances from his books and, perhaps, by illness from his customary mental clarity. It is unfinished: we owe this edition to the good services of his friend, René Hague. It contains unfortunate lapses: `Maedb's own Munster' is referred to on the opening page and, as has already been pointed out elsewhere, Maedb had nothing whatever to do with Munster. It is difficult to see, despite Mr Hague's notes, that it could, ever, have turned into a work of much formal coherence: the poem's voice seems content, more or less, to take its inspiration ...


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