Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas Paperback – 5 Jan 2012
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'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an evocation of a lost England that Thomas himself elegised so movingly in the nature poems that, although almost all unpublished in his lifetime, have found an enduring place in the canon of British literature.'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
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!
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.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another book but for my dad who enjoys reading all about history. He said that this book was fantastic any really enjoyed reading it and it is one they will keep as it was a... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Vampirewerewolfzombielover
I hate to write a bad review of what is clearly a well-researched and well-intentioned analysis of Thomas's last years, but.... Read morePublished 13 months ago by G. Coates
Matthew Hollis begins his sympathetic account of the last few years of the life of poet Edward Thomas, with a wonderfully atmospheric piece of writing about the opening of Harold... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Susie B
I liked Hollis's examination of the poetry of Thomas and Frost and learned a great deal more than I knew of the
strength of their friendship and influences on each other... Read more
An excellent read.
If you are interested in poetry, mental health and the FIrst World
War this fascinating book is for you. Read more
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