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Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas Paperback – 5 Jan 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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  • Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas
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  • The Annotated Collected Poems
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  • Understanding Edward Thomas' Set Poems: A-level Study Guide: Volume 2 (Gavin's Guides)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571245994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571245994
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Scrupulous book ... a bravura critical performance.' -- Sunday Times

'Hollis movingly analyses these [poems] and writes heart-stoppingly ... This is a brilliant and superbly written study by a writer, himself a poet, who understands his subject with acute but critical sympathy.' -- Sunday Telegraph, Book of the Week

'One of the many subsidiary delights of this exceptionally fine biography is its melancholy, and often very funny, evocation of the literary life ... Now All Roads Lead To France is a beautiful biography, an unfussy, clear-headed study of the making of a poet, and perhaps above all, a gentle reminder that poetry can be almost as essential to the human spirit as breathing.' --Mail on Sunday, Book of the Week

'Hollis writes gracefully, and with great empathy, about Thomas's sad struggles and yearnings. Absorbing ... serves as a tribute to one of poetry's more suffering souls. It's also an evocation of a lost England that Thomas himself elegised so movingly in the nature poems that, although almost all unpublished in his lifetime, have found an enduring place in the canon of British literature.' --Financial Times

'Hollis's excellent account of Thomas's last years ... Hollis - like Thomas, a poet, an editor and now a biographer - tells all of this very well, his account beautifully structured by place, year and season ... his narrative is calm and discreet, his tone witty and scholarly. His sympathy for Thomas and his admiration for the poetry are clear, but he is unsentimentally candid about his subject's troubles and solipsism ... Hollis's fine book helps us to understand how much more there is to Thomas than willow-herb and meadowsweet and haycocks dry.' --Guardian

Book Description

Now All Roads Lead to France is celebrated poet Matthew Hollis's fascinating exploration of one of Britain's most influential First World War poets.

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By S. J. Williams TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hollis' book is a marvelous achievement. I have admired Thomas' poetry for years but knew remarkably little about the man beyond his literary reputation, his war-service and his background in reviewing and 'nature' writing. This book presents us with an often unsympathetic figure, largely because of his troubled family-life where he often seems surly, irascible, even psychologically brutal with his wife and children. (His struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide are sympathetically treated, but Hollis does not shy away from the awful impact his moods must have had on those closest to him. This can make for disturbing reading!) Yet Hollis explores his writing wonderfully, brilliantly contextualising it in the literary culture of the period. The Georgians, the Poetry Bookshop, The Dymock Poets, Pound, Yeats, Rupert Brooke, WH Davis and many others move in and out of focus as the narrative progresses and are fascinating in themselves. However, the key interest must be Thomas's initially hesitant movement from increasingly 'jobbing' prose to poetry. What an extraordinary burst of creativity in his last couple of years! Robert Frost's place in Thomas's life is thoroughly explored and emerges as the great formative friendship, the midwife to Thomas's emergence as a poet of great importance.

Hollis writes beautifully, with the right balance of sensitive analysis when considering the poems (this is NOT, thankfully a text book approach to the work) and he is always sympathetic, though not blinkered, about his subject. By the end, I felt I understood the work far more, albeit at the cost of admiring Thomas the man a good deal less.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book and all the more remarkable for being the author's first work of non-fiction. It should be read by everyone who is interested in Edward Thomas, poetry and everyone else. Matthew Hollis has written the most plausible account yet of the last four years of ET's troubled existence. All previous attempts have been written by people who were too in love with him, too close to his family or too polite to provide a sufficiently objective account. As he valued honesty (read "I may come near loving you" for proof) above everything, ET would surely approve.
The big mystery about ET is why after so many years of reviewing and writing prose he turned to poetry. The book focuses on Robert Frost's role but goes much further than any previous writer in showing why Frost's influence was the trigger rather than the underlying cause. The truth is surely that ET had to write poetry. It was either that or "the friend" in his pocket. By 1914 his regular sources of income were drying up, the war seemed likely to determine the fates of all, the "melancholy" he had wrestled with all of his adult life had not departed, so why not have a go? He told Eleanor Farjeon "I couldn't write a poem to save my life." - how wrong can you be?
The other mystery is why he joined up. He wasn't jingoistic (see "This is no case of petty right or wrong") and he was old enough not to feel under any great pressure to go. So why did he do it? Read the book! If you're still not convinced read the poems, particularly; Aspens, Sowing, Beauty, Lob, The Owl, Light's Out, For These and Old Man and then, I promise you will want to!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unlike other reviewers here I had never heard of this poet and knew nothing of, nor liked, poetry. As this was a daily deal and I wanted something different to read I thought I would give it a go. It was a very interesting book especially as it was set around the First World War. I liked the insight into the way the poetry was put together and enjoyed the poems enough to download 'The Collected Poems'. If you want a heavily academic book then this will probably not satisfy you, but if, like me, you just want an introduction into the world of poetry and an interesting read then this is it.
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderful achievement from this first time biographer. Perhaps Matthew Hollis' own career as a poet gives him a particular sense of Thomas' work and of his frustrated hopes and melancholy.
This is an evocative account of the man and his circle (including the Dymock poets) and the way in which creative relationships are part of the making of a writer. It is also beautifully, yet not affectedly, written and leaves a reader with a broader sense of the world of pre-war literary Britain.
i understood much more about the subsequent history of Thomas' reputation having read Hollis' book, and I was sorry to finish it but sadder that Thomas' strange wartime death in the snow at Arras in 1917 brought his mid life blossoming to an end.
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Format: Hardcover
There is much that is thorough and good in this book, though nothing that was not already pretty common knowledge.

However, it was ruined for me by the claims Hollis made to 'understand ' the reasons for Thomas's enlisting. The hackneyed old argument about the gamekeeper incident and Thomas's anxiety about his courage is just plausible as a small component in his decision.
But the passage about the famous poem,The Road not Taken, by Frost having a clinching influence is frankly ludicrous. Hard not to believe it's there because it is a famous poem.The letter Thomas wrote about it shows , for me, that it made scarcely any impact on him at all.
Thomas made it clear time and time again why he was enlisting: to fight for the soil of the country he loved. He could not continue to appreciate it aesthetically, write about it, express his tenderness and passion for it, yet refuse to defend it.
Hollis's claim is an insult to Thomas's maturity and patriotism, a patriotism which may now seem strange to us but in the context of his times was very general.
I am seriously annoyed that people are reading this book and taking in this message!
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