Matthew Hollis: Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas
Edward Thomas: Prose Writings: A Selected Edition. Volume 1: Autobiographies
Edward Thomas: Prose Writings: A Selected Edition. Volume 2: England and Wales
When W. H. Auden was totting up his poetic influences in A Thanksgiving (1973), he named Edward Thomas as important, but it was a back-handed compliment as he stated that he was important only at the beginning of his, Audens, career. Auden was for many decades considered to be the attentive scribe of the modern world, able to set a poem in the transit lounge of an airport before anyone else, state-of-the-art. Edward Thomas, on the other hand, never lived to see such a transit lounge, and indeed it seemed anomalous that he had even survived into the twentieth century, let alone its second decade. As anomalous as Hardy who survived till 1928, Victorian ghost who hadnt been told he was dead. Or even more outrageously, like Robert Frost, who died in 1963. The historiographers of Modernist poetry had difficulty with these afterlives, and Lionel Trilling even went so far as to imply that Frost, though he might look like a throwback, was a Modernist also at heart. Once a point like this is made, the term Modernism begins to lose its explanatory power, indeed if it ever had any. Like Romanticism or Modernisms progeny Postmodernism it refers to such varied phenomena that it can describe nothing with exactitude. It is useful as a grab-bag for undergraduates, but less so for the serious reader of literature.