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In Parenthesis: [Paperback]

David Jones , T.S. Eliot
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 July 1975
"This writing has to do with some things I saw, felt, and was part of": with quiet modesty, David Jones begins a work that is among the most powerful imaginative efforts to grapple with the carnage of the First World War, a book celebrated by W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot as one of the masterpieces of modern literature. Fusing poetry and prose, gutter talk and high music, wartime terror and ancient myth, Jones, who served as an infantryman on the Western Front, presents a picture at once panoramic and intimate of a world of interminable waiting and unforeseen death. And yet throughout he remains alert to the flashes of humanity that light up the wasteland of war.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (24 July 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057105661X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571056613
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 531,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

'This work of a poet-painter has its every word chiseled out of experience, and it is probably the World War I monument most likely to survive.' Stephen Spender, The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Jones (1895-1974) was born in Kent. In 1915, then an art student, he went to war with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, where he fought in the battles of the Somme and Ypres. In 1922 he began a long association with the artist Eric Gill. In Parenthesis, based on Jones's experiences in World War I, was published in 1937, followed in 1952 by The Anathémata and The Sleeping Lord in 1974. David Jones's works are exhibited at the Tate Museum and the National Museum of Wales.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A War With Meaning 5 Nov 2005
By Sordel TOP 500 REVIEWER
Most writers about the First World War treat it as a war without values or meaning. David Jones - in what holds serious claim to be the literary masterpiece of that war - confounds this image by seeing meaning everywhere. In a richly-figured, highly poetic work (whether it's a novel or a poem is debatable) Jones reinterprets the realities of trench life with images drawn from religion and mythology, so that those fighting on both sides become pitched in refighting an endless war.
The details of the soldier's life are presented unsentimentally, with a more realistic sense of army life arising than one might find in more ostensibly tragic poets such as Owen or Sassoon. At the same time, the brutality of war is brilliantly evoked in the climactic battle scene. The modernist flourishes (much praised by T.S. Eliot) are an important dimension in Jones's craft here, but he taps more explicitly into British legends than Eliot or Pound, and the national element becomes especially important to a work that draws on Shakespeare's "Henry V" as a picture of Britons at war in France.
Seventy years after publication, "In Parenthesis" remains the best known literary work by a poet-painter who has remained little known outside a circle of faithful devotees. It's tempting to think that this is largely due to its emotional core, and the fact that it can still tell us a great deal about a conflict that has become almost exhausted by cliche.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure genius 11 Nov 2010
By Fidel
This is a truly and unexpectedly amazing book - taking the reader in stages into the hell of the First World War.

What sets it apart in my opinion are three things;

Firstly it is undeniably and gloriously authentic. This is not someone blinded by emotion, either jingoism or fear, but someone who sat through the experience open eyed and concious throughout.

Secondly this isn't a personal account. It manages to feel utterly objective and utterly real without worrying about the author's peron. Somewhere in the blurb it talks about the writing being triple-distilled, which is a very good analogy for its clarity yet depersonalised style.

Finally the sense of meaning is marvellous - Christian and Arthurian, but also Classical and Valkerian, just a superb piece of rich, resonating purpose. The meaning it conveys to me is a sense that we matter, individually, no matter what - a religious hymn to humanity. A precis doesn't really work but read it and I think you'll understand what I mean.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange but powerful 27 July 2009
Of all the books written after the first world war by those that fought in the trenches this is the oddest, quirkiest and strangest. At the same time it has a hypnotic power that by the end involves the reader in the sadness of fighting and dying. The sheer boredom that was the soldier's lot, the endless, mindless, waiting.... Its not a narrative. If you like a story this is not for you. If you like the power of words to transform your perceptions, then it is. Jones was without doubt a great poet; but his poetry is too idiosyncratic and too referenced to ever have a large or popular following. Be that as it may, it does not take away the quality of this work.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This book is fascinating: a 1920s Modernist stream of consciousness novel set in the trenches.

What makes it interesting is that it gives you the moment by moment sensations of being an infantryman in the Great War: the fragments of song and conversation, the sensations of being shelled or of just waking up in the trenches, with the whole business of trying to make a cup of tea and have something to eat.

It puts you inside the mind of a soldier; amazing, really.

The literary references are interesting as well, and made me want to reread the Morte D'Arthur of Malory.

Unforgettable, fascinating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War 12 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you read just one book about War World I this year, make it this one. Beautifully written, it evokes the reality of the war with such emotion and descriptive power that you feel the soldiers' pains with them.
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