Friday, March 27, 2009

Denton Welch - March 27, 1915 - December 30, 1948

One of my favorite writers.  He's been called "the least known English literary genius of the 20th century."  

While riding his bike when he was twenty his spine was fractured when he was struck by a car.  In the thirteen years that remained for him he suffered and he wrote and he painted.  One of his self-portraits hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.  His books gained a cult following; this cult lives on.  Here, picked at random from his journal, is a sample of his prose; he's writing about a picnic he'd been on with a friend:

"We both felt, then, I think, how doomed we were, how doomed everyone was, we saw very clearly the plain tragedy of our lives and of everybody's.  A year after a year after a year passes, and then you look back and your sadness pierces you.  We were very sad from the drink ... we got up to go, leaving the egg-shells on the ground.  I think of those terribly sad egg-shells lying in the wood now.  I feel that I shall go back to visit them."

And, no doubt, weep at the sight of them.

*I'd give credit to the photographer of Denton Welch at the top if I knew who it was.

7 comments:

  1. I've never in my life heard of this author. Isn't it sad when an artist so deserving of attention falls off the radar? I'll put him on my list, but no guarantees when I'll get to him. Good lord, my TBR list! It overfloweth. Darn homework ...

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  2. A wonderful man

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  3. Give Denton a go, his writing is so clear and evocative, his amazing eye for detail of people, things, and emotions is matched by his powers of descriptive prose. I have all his work. Try to get "Where Nothing Sleeps"

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  4. I can accross Denton welch in some boxes of books I bought to sell. I started reading A Last Sheaf and am now hooked I kept all 3 books from the boxes and want to collect them all. The details that he writes about are of a time past and lost.

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  5. Denton Welch is one of best writers of the 20th century. I found Maiden Voyage and In Youth Is Pleasure among the most compelling reads ever. That being said, his short stories are less successful than the longer works, to my mind. I'm eager to delve into the Journals, however.

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  6. Is that the edition of Maiden Voyage with the title pages covered in very intricate drawings of ivy, trellises, etc.? It's how I first read the book and I'd love to find a copy again.

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  7. Greg - Not in my edition (London, Faber & Faber, 1st). You can see many of his drawings in his published journals. Thanks for writing; didn't see this post until today.

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