Entry updated 11 May 2020. Tagged: Artist, Author.
(1895-1974) UK painter and author whose written works, widely and properly characterized as High Modernist, are not describable as sf, nor as being Equipoisal in anything like a twenty-first century sense, but which have a central importance as examples of the epic grasp of the world demonstrated when the magic-literalism of Fantastika is wrought to its uttermost as Poetry. Jones's first work of significance, In Parenthesis: Seinnyessit e Gledyf ym Penn Mameu [subtitle translates as "His sword resounded in the heads of mothers"] (1937), is a complex book-length narrative poem with long prose sections whose flow of almost supernaturally intense observation has its fount in Jones's active service in World War One 1915-1918; but whose overall structure radically transfigures its undoubted verisimilitude. As a whole In Parenthesis is shaped as a chanson de gestes, with contemporary scenes irradiated by topoi and figures out of Welsh history and legend, including the Mabinogion (Jones's background was Welsh, though he never lived there and did not speak Welsh fluently). It traces the lives and deaths of a group of soldiers in the Royal Welch Fusiliers over a period of several months, climaxing in a terrible engagement at Mametz Wood between 7 and 12 July 1916. Though deeply admired, the book has never fully penetrated public consciousness; but it remains an uncontestable central lesson in how to tell the modern age.
Jones's second major written work, The Anathemata: Fragments of an Attempted Writing (1952), applies a similar language, and a similar juxtaposing of timbres and chronologies, to the Matter of Britain [for Matter see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. His graphic work was distinguished, showing the influence of his mentor Eric Gill (1882-1940), but ultimately freer. Jones was appointed CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1955. [JC]
Walter David Michael Jones
born Brockley, Kent: 1 November 1895
died Sudbury Hill, Harrow [ie London]: 28 October 1974
- In Parenthesis: Seinnyessit e Gledyf ym Penn Mameu (London: Faber and Faber, 1937) [poem/novel: subtitle translates as "His sword resounded in the heads of mothers": hb/nonpictorial]
- The Anathemata: Fragments of an Attempted Writing (London: Faber and Faber, 1952) [poem/novel: hb/David Jones]
- The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragments (London: Faber and Faber, 1974) [poetry: coll: hb/David Jones]
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