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This review is taken from PN Review 24, Volume 8 Number 4, March - April 1982.

OUT OF THE FOREST David Jones, The Roman Quarry, edited by Harman Grisewood and René Hague (Agenda Editions, 5 Cranbourne Court, Albert Bridge Road, London SW 11) £7.50

Given the state of disorganisation that David Jones's writings used to get into in his lifetime, and from which every publication, even the posting of a letter, was a kind of miraculous rescue, with which every rewriting was a piece of violent reasoning, it is not surprising that the huge mass of his unpublished papers should now yield a harvest which is both exciting and bewildering. The overlapping of short and long fragments, sometimes in several versions, and the burials and later resurrections of manuscripts, make it impossible to produce one coherent work, or collection of works, from what he left. The best that editing of consummate skill and dedication can offer is something different.

Firstly, the papers did turn out to contain a dozen or so passages of David Jones at his best as a poet. Secondly, since the ten long fragments here printed are all related to works David did publish or half-publish, and which we know, this new collection most helpfully illuminates his development as a writer, and it adds substantially to the power of context which emerges from all his works taken together. These are not simply rejected fragments or abandoned versions. That was not his method, either as a poet or I believe as a painter. His development was not mountainous, the irresistible upthrust of some vast new landscape throwing off boulders, it was more like the intricate and dense development of a forest.

After I had come to know ...


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