An in­sight­ful and lu­cid look at a for­got­ten artis­tic great

Bi­og­ra­phy gives painter and poet his proper place in his­tory of Mod­ernism

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charisma to a ca­reer; liv­ing un­til 1974 does not.

And yet, even in later life, he showed all the symp­toms of a man who had spent longer on ac­tive ser­vice than any of his fel­low war poets and had suf­fered deeply from its shocks.

When I met him, very briefly, in 1972, he seemed to my young eyes both im­pos­si­bly vul­ner­a­ble, jump­ing at a banged door as he once jumped at His mother even crit­i­cised his let­ters pul­pit. The Anath­e­mata came later, an how­itzer shells, but also im­pos­si­bly home from the front, more troubled by even more knot­ted and com­plex ex­cerpt ex­alted and ec­static. or­tho­graph­i­cal lapses than by the chance from what was in­tended to be a much

There’s a fi­nal rea­son for the ne­glect of he might be killed, as he nearly was. longer poem. Fur­ther ex­tracts and Jones, and it’s a lit­tle disin­gen­u­ously Jones was briefly en­gaged to Gill’s pas­sages were even­tu­ally pub­lished as omit­ted from that sub­ti­tle. Jones’s daugh­ter Pe­tra, but the mar­riage never The Sleep­ing Lord. Catholi­cism, to which he turned af­ter hap­pened; not, as some have thought, Jones’s art, like that of Ce­cil Collins, see­ing Mass cel­e­brated in a ru­ined house be­cause Pe­tra was the ob­ject of her deals with nu­mi­nous states and be­hind Ypres, and which was then fa­ther’s in­ces­tu­ous de­sires, as an­other vi­sion­ary pres­ences. He started out as an en­cour­aged by a highly cul­tured priest sis­ter was, but be­cause Jones, though il­lus­tra­tor, re­jected the tra­di­tion of called Fr John O’Con­nor, who may have highly sexed, seems to have strug­gled to Raphael and learned to draw with the been the pro­to­type for GK Ch­ester­ton’s form a ma­ture re­la­tion­ship. pen­cil point, yield­ing a style that al­ways Fa­ther Brown, ren­ders him some­what In Paren­the­sis ap­peared in 1937, and seems to shim­mer off the paper or alien to the crit­i­cal main­stream. can­vas.in­1961with­anad­miring­in­tro­duc­tion

Jones re­garded the Mass as the by TS Eliot, who thought Jones the most ul­ti­mate work of art, a con­vic­tion that im­por­tant British poet of the time. led some ad­vis­ers to steer him away from It cen­tres on the long mono­logue of holy or­ders, be­liev­ing that too aes­thetic a Dai Great­coat, a com­pos­ite fig­ure out of view of the Eucharist pre­cluded a Jones’s long ex­po­sure to Welsh myth (he gen­uine vo­ca­tion. was part-Welsh in fact and to­tally so in

Jones stud­ied car­pen­try at Eric Gill’s imag­i­na­tion), the Mabino­gion, Ditch­ling community, but was as Shake­speare’s his­to­ries, Euro­pean in­suf­fi­cient at that trade as he had been ro­mance and scrip­ture. at ortho­dox school sub­jects. Jones’s mother was Angli­can, his Math­e­mat­ics evaded him and he never fa­ther an Evan­gel­i­cal preacher who drew learned to spell. on the dis­tinc­tive hy­wll of the Welsh

PUTTING the two as­pects of the work to­gether is not so much a de­part­men­tal prob­lem as a mat­ter of sur­ren­der­ing to their unique as­pects.Thomas Dil­worth has spent his ca­reer study­ing Jones. A much fuller ac­count of his sub­ject’s wartime ex­pe­ri­ence has al­ready been pub­lished. He wrote three ear­lier books on Jones, and edited two more.

An even fuller ver­sion of the present bi­og­ra­phy will be avail­able on­line for schol­ars. For the mo­ment, though, this is as lu­cid, sym­pa­thetic and in­sight­ful a life as could be hoped for. Jones emerges from it strongly, if of­ten per­versely.

He is now surely ready to take his place at the head of 20th cen­tury English let­ters and art.

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