Dylan Thomas

THE DEATH of Dylan Thomas in 1953 was the cause of the most singular demonstration of suffering in modern literary history. One searches his memory in vain for any parallel to it. At thirty-nine Thomas had endeared himself to the literary youth of England and America, to most of the poets who were his contemporaries, and to many who were his elders; he was the master of a public which he himself had brought out of nothingness; he was the idol of writers of every description and the darling of the press. (The Press scented him early and nosed him to the grave.) Critics had already told how Thomas became the first poet who was both popular and obscure. In an age when poets are supposed to be born old, everyone looked upon Thomas as the last of the young poets. When he died, it was as if there would never be any more youth in the world. Or so it seemed in the frenzy of his year-long funeral, a funeral which, like one of Thomas' own poems, turned slowly into a satanic celebration and a literary institution.

When Yeats and Valéry died, old and wise and

-171-

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In Defense of Ignorance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • To the Reader ix
  • The Critic In Spite of Himself 3
  • T. S. Eliot: the Death Of Literary Judgment 35
  • Ezra Pound: the Scapegoat Of Modern Poetry 61
  • W. B. Yeats: Trial By Culture 87
  • The Retreat of W. H. Auden 115
  • William Carlos Williams: The True Contemporary 143
  • Dylan Thomas 171
  • The First White Aboriginal 187
  • The Jewish Writer In America 205
  • Poets and Psychologists 219
  • The Unemployed Magician 239
  • What is Not Poetry? 263
  • Poets of the Cosmic Consciousness 287
  • The Greatest Living Author 313
  • About the Author *
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