Books of the year 2011: John Gray

Now All Roads Lead to France: the Last Years of Edward Thomas - Matthew Hollis

 

Ted Hughes wrote of Edward Thomas, "He is the father of us all." Writing all of his 140-odd poems in the three years before he was killed in the Battle of Arras in April 1917, Thomas had an extraordinary influence. Subtle, restrained and yet full of powerful emotion, Thomas's poetry is, like the man, an inexhaustible enigma. Re­imagining his life might seem impossible but this is what Matthew Hollis has done in Now All Roads Lead to France: the Last Years of Edward Thomas (Faber & Faber, £20), an exquisitely perceptive account of Thomas's late turn to poetry and the complex inner currents that led him to enlist in the army and die from the blast of a shell in northern France.

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