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on 4 August 2017
It is very pleasant to read the words of Edward Thomas in this travelogue which covers much of my own homeland and that of my ancestors. The descriptions of his journey and the many humorous comments he makes on the way bring the early 20th century much closer than one might have expected.
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on 20 September 2013
It is riddled with typos - it obviously hadn't been properly proofread. And it had dropped the maps from the original edition, which for a travel book is absurd. All in all, I thought it was a poor production.
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on 15 July 2013
Let me say, first of all, that Edward Thomas is one of my favourite writers and that this book is a superb evocation of the English countryside on the verge of WW1. That is why this centenary edition is so disappointing. A total lack of care has been exercised in its compilation, with a host of grammatical and typesetting errors and words and sections of text missed out. It seems obvious that no proof-reader has been employed to check the text before publication.

Now to the cover itself. Much as I love the paintings of Van Gogh, why, oh why, choose a French painting for the cover of what is a quintessentially English book? The logic escapes me!

In the introduction, the anonymous editor says: "Graham Hill Classics is honoured to present the Centenary Edition of 'In Pursuit of Spring'. Hope you enjoy reading it." Well, apparently not honoured enough to take the necessary care with its compilation. And, yes, I did enjoy reading it, in between being furious at the mistakes. A very poor effort, Graham Hill; Edward Thomas deserves better.
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on 29 October 2016
First of all let me say I find the reviews here very confusing, as they appear to be of different publications of this book, so you need to be aware of this when considering points concerning quality of production. My review is of the Little Toller H B limited edition (2016). I’m happy with it, although better quality paper would I think do far better justice to the photographs which are from the Edward Thomas collection, and which were taken during his walk. They add quality to the edition and the fact I could see the print from behind didn’t spoil my experience of looking at them too any extent.

As I read through this work I found my views as to the quality of it changing from time to time I’d find myself coming across some really wonderful descriptive prose and then a page or two of mundane reading and I was never going to appreciate the pieces of literary criticism by Thomas (not my chosen form of reading at all, although I did enjoy the piece about W H Hudson), which to my mind are more likely to appeal to the academic and student readership. The secret I found was to take the reading very slowly and in that way I appreciated the prose much more than trying to read at speed. There are a number of passages that I have re-read and I am sure that at some point I will read the book again from cover to cover. Bearing in mind the changes to the English countryside since the book was written and also the author’s death at Arras only four years after his experiences, there are bound to be feelings of poignancy when reading of his quest for spring. I especially couldn’t help but wonder if the young soldier ‘hand in hand’ with his girlfriend and the seventeen year old youths ‘playing marbles’ in the street also met their fate on the battle fields of Europe. There is a passage describing an old man showing all the signs of poverty whilst mingling with ladies in furs on the Streets of London, which to my find would have fit quite well into Ralph McTell’s ‘Streets of London many years later. Some things don’t change!

I was easily able to relate the changes in the countryside to my own experience of change during my own lifetime, albeit that the latter were in Northern England, so knowledge of the counties covered during the walk may be an advantage to some readers, but certainly is not an essential requirement to enjoying this work.

A few too many mentions of rookeries, with no real extensive description of one, but a book well worth reading if you’re willing to take it slowly and enjoy the subtle coming of spring. I enjoyed this read very much. I’m hoping I can now find a good quality copy of the author’s Icknield Way. Perhaps a reprinting of that one would be a good project for Little Toller to consider.
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on 6 April 2013
I've owned an original edition of In Pursuit of Spring for years but until this Easter had merely skimmed it looking for the passages in which Robert Frost saw Edward Thomas's potential as a poet. Now thanks to Matthew Oates' programme I am reading it and really enjoying it. It's quietly witty, really humourous at times. It's excellent on birds - he can convey the movement, sound and shape of birds like no-one other than Hopkins. His views of villages, farms and churches, inns and roads, bring them to life.
Above all we sense the man himself - reflective, original in his approach and reasonably even-tempered and content, it seems. That was a surprise to me as I had always understood 1913 to be his most unhappy year.

There is a chapter on three poets, one of whom is Hardy. Fascinating to think that at that very time Hardy was writing his best poems, the Emma sequence. I would love to know what Thomas would have said about these poems on the theme of guilt for mis-treating your wife! More important is the chapter on Coleridge at Nether Stowey, a poet and critic he admired so much - (oh dear, another appalling husband, the worst of the lot!)

As Thomas moved further west, away from London, the writing becomes more relaxed, unfussy, closer to the voice of the poems. It's great to observe the development and I'm really sorry that as a student of and writer on Thomas - '[[ASIN:0956424236 A Conscious Englishman] -I haven't read it before.
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on 13 July 2013
There are books which won't allow anything but a speedy reading pace to match their plot, sometimes coming and going in a day. Then there are books like this. At the time of writing I am about half-way through journey and thoroughly enjoying meeting Thomas' gently unfolding narrative in the manner in which it was written; without hurry and savoring every detail. As I read, I am on the lane, in the wood, by the river. The town scenes in which the journey commences navigate within a hair's breadth of purple but with the open country the breathing becomes relaxed and observations of all things natural are never in need of heavy metaphor to allow them to drift from the page and into the senses. Reading this book has produced a strong temptation to retrace the journey but I fear that the passing of a hundred years will have reduced too many of the locations to mere echoes, so I shall remain content with the powerfully evocative writing of a gifted author, sound in the knowledge that at least it was once as described. One minor irritation with this version but one which is surely unnecessary: I have encountered more typos than I care to count, on which I have stubbed my toe as I amble along. A hasty compilation as the centenary approached, perhaps? Never mind, back on the bike!
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on 20 April 2014
As others have said this is an excellent book crying out for a bit more TLC in the preparation.

There are scores of typesetting errors throughout the text that indicate this to be a 'cheepo cut & paste edition'.

What would be really good would be a thoughtful 'illustrated' edition with maps, photos from the 1913 period and modern day of the places visited and the flora described. All this plus notes and an introduction by, say, Robert Macfarlane wold be capital!

The publisher could also chuck in a CD or download of the BBC radio series broadcast in March 2013 to celebrate the books centenary.

Sadly the above is unlikely to happen...in the meantime this is better than nothing...
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on 25 March 2016
I aleady have an early copy of this book, but the chance to have Thomas's own photographs incorporated was too good to resist.
If you think the same, do not bother. The photos are printed on the reverse of text pages and are almost all disfigured by a bleed-through of dark lines of text. They probably actual size, and if they had been clear, would have been wonderful. A sadly bungled publishing job from Toller books, in my opinion. If you don't have the book, it is worth the read, but don't buy it for the photos.
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on 28 March 2013
One of the most wonderful books in the English language. Thomas was way ahead of his time, and is speaking to us as much from the future as from the past. Many of the passages are amongst the most soul-touching you will ever read. Essential and unforgettable reading.
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on 7 April 2016
Wonderful to see this back in print. As ever, Little Toller have done a wonderful job with production and it's always exciting to see them bring out a new volume.
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