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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2010
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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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 November 2005
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 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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11 of 12 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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on 5 July 2013
I'm pleased I bought this because I take a lot of pleasure dipping into the poem and trying to understand what the poet is trying to convey, what is happening and why he's writing in this particular style. I'm no specialist, I find it hard going but, oddly, rewarding.
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on 26 February 2014
It's a great book and I'm the type that likes to scribble in the margins, so the generous page formatting and quality paper were a definite plus. Eliot's introduction and Jones' own preface lent a great sense of context to the book, excellent read.
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on 12 June 2014
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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2012
No one can tell you how good this book is ,you have to read it , it is a tough read. King's Pellum land? One of the wonderful metaphors that Jones uses to add power to his work. Perhaps if one wishes to get a taster of this work it would be good to listen to the Poet himself ,reading an part of Book 3. Is available in the C.D. 'Artist Rifles' 1914-18.or download it alone.

It would indeed be very difficult to accurately decribe this work, with all its complexity, but this track will give a potential reader a way into the magic.

P.S. For the Purists -Jones was born and Bred in England, but at heart he was Welsh.
Jonathan Hutchins
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on 22 January 2015
Thank you for fast Delivery my father is thoroughly enjoying this book.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2014
Hard work, this poem. A cross between Hopkins, Joyce and Eliot. Happily a summary off the internet helped. But did it need to be quite so allusive? 33 pages of Notes? If it's one man's account of life in WW1 trenches you're after I would recommend that undoubted masterpiece "Life in the Tomb" by Stratis Myrivilis - in pellucid prose...
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