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R. S. Thomas: A Stylistic Biography (Writing Wales in English) (CREW Series of Critical and Scholarly Studies) Paperback – 5 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wales Press (5 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0708324118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0708324110
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,303,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This is a landmark in R.S.Thomas studies. Too often, the work of the great priest-poet of Wales has been interpreted according to competing ideologies, with his poetry appropriated by the politicised and co-opted by the committed. Daniel Westover's impressive study clears away the critical accretions of the R.S.Thomas industry and recalls us to attend to the sheer intense craft of this most resourceful poet. He reminds us that Thomas, though apparently a reclusive traditionalist in his life and thought, was nonetheless constantly progressive and experimental in his literary techniques. As we approach the centenary of Thomas's birth, this book lets us see the poet afresh according to the only standard by which his work will ultimately live - his artistry. --Dr Grahame Davies, Honorary Fellow, Cardiff University

Westover defends his new stylistic biography by reminding us of the weight of bias that has been invested in previous appraisals of the most recognizable literary figure in Wales . Westover, frustrated by these assumptive texts, has sought to honour the ogre of Wales with a more holistic approach. He follows the chronology of Thomas s poetic development, panning for influences and contexts as he goes and, crucially, resisting the urge to romanticise. Westover gives us a humbling vision of a man discontented with the limits of his voice ; somebody constantly evolving. It s an excellent volume that takes us from these nebulous beginnings to the solidifying of Thomas s political consciousness and his desperation to waken Wales to put aside her servility . Westover gives the man himself the same treatment and the resulting work is edifying, and satisfyingly heartfelt. --Jemma King, www.gwales.com

Ym marn Daniel Westover, Thomas oedd un o feirdd mwyaf eofn a radicalaidd ei syniadau yn ystod yr ugeinfed ganrif as roedd hefyd yn un o r beirdd mwyaf blaengar o ran datblygiad ei arddul. Dadl Westover yw i ddatblygiad Thomas fel bard adlewyrchu n agos iawn ei symudiadau daearyddol o le I le. Oredd syniadau r bard am Gymru n newid ac yn datblygu gan ddibynnu ar leoliad ei gartref ar y pryd. Dadleua r awdur yn gyson drwy r gwaith fod perthynas agos iawn rhwng ffurf, natur a chynnwys y cerddi a lleoliad y bard ar y pryd. Mae n amlwg I ddiwydiant astudio R S Thomas fynd o nerth inerth bellach, gyda Daniel Westover ar flaen y gad yn y fenter gyffroes a phwysig hon. --Dr J Graham Jones, Y Cymro

Westover's thesis is that Thomas was a conscious and painstaking stylist and that 'Without a prosody that demands attention, the poems would not affect the reader as they do'…his book is intended to fill a neglected gap, 'the intricacies of his craft'. I think it succeeds; at least I am persuaded he was a far more conscious prosodist than I and others had given him credit for. --Sam Adams, PN Review

It is, for me, a very strange experience to read what Daniel Westover has written. These discussions about form, style, prosody and poetics swam around the house as part of normal daily conversation, and the cadences of household discourse were irretrievably mixed up with the phraseology and 'content' of the poems. Daniel has managed to capture this in his excellent Stylistic Biography. Somehow, he has managed to articulate the discourse and register of the conversations of my early life. --Gwydion Thomas

I found Daniel Westover s book hard to put down. Critical writing of this quality is a rare pleasure, all the more so when one thinks one knows the subject reasonably well, but finds oneself constantly enlightened. Westover takes our understanding to a new level by discussing the poet s prosody, as no one else has; our understanding of the man, too, is enhanced by the relationship Westover reveals between prosody and place. With M. Wynn Thomas's work on R. S. Thomas, and Tony Brown's book, this is quite the best there is on Thomas. --Jeremy Hooker

About the Author

Daniel Westover is an award-winning poet and literary critic specializing in the English language poetry of Wales. He is currently Assistant Professor of Modern British Literature at East Tennessee State University.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As correctly claimed by the author, this is the first book length treatment of R S Thomas poetry as poetry. The author gives a superb discussion of how R S Thomas's style perfectly compliments his theology. The close readings given of some key poems are very illuminating, as is the attempt to trace RST's stylistic development through his biography. This is a must for any RST fan.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By John Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have spent two and a half months reading this book--not because of its length or its difficulty or any problem at all within it, but because it was too good to rush through. I often find that in reading a great novel I will slow down to extend the pleasure; however, this is the first book of criticism I have ever read that way. I've loved R. S. Thomas's poetry for years and for years taught him in a graduate course in Contemporary Poetry. I know his work well, but Daniel Westover taught me far more about him than I knew and brought me to a deeper understanding and appreciation of his prosody than I previously had. Westover made it clear to me that I had not understood all its brilliant intricacies. He made me go back to Thomas's books to reread and think about his work. I'd read Westover and then have to go back to Thomas and then back to Westover. As I said, I taught Thomas's work for years, but this book taught me Thomas better than I ever taught him.

For readers who have not read R. S. Thomas, a very different kind of religious poet than Hopkins but the best, in my opinion, since Hopkins, this "stylistic biography" is a brilliant introduction to his life and his art, to how he made his art. I have read many books of criticism in my 65 years but have encountered only three besides Westover's that seem to me as profound and as important as this book.
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