THE LIFE OF DYLAN THOMAS by Constantine FitzGibbon
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Many years, probably, must have elapsed before Orpheus' contemporaries could think of that poet-priest in terms of his achievement, or even his human qualities, rather than the spectacular fragmentation of his last moments. It is Fitzgibbon's achievement, only twelve years removed from the shock and pain which overpowered Brinnin's or Caitlin's accounts, to have created a sane, compassionate and witty portrait of Dylan Thomas, one which is convincing in terms of its relationship to the substance of his poetry, rather than the self-created, self-consuming myth of the ""hell-raising boozer and lecher."" He sees the poetry as an essentially Orphic process by which Thomas' lifelong preoccupation with death was transformed into ""the identification of himself and his mortal body with all of nature..."" Fitzgibbon, as biographer and friend, seems happily free of compulsions to self-justification or self-dramatization. He respects Thomas as a completely ""professional"" artist who ""even managed to do some writing"" during his last American trip, for the ""sweat and anguish and utter honesty"" of his ""attempts to write his truth into his poems""; and, if he ever sits in censorious judgment, is upon the ""rich sensation-mongers,"" the BBC bureaucrats, the ""doctor who does not reply to questions on this subject,"" and finally upon the ""endless awful anxiety"" about money ""that contributed more perhaps than anything else to his decline and death."" An eloquent tribute, an important summation.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1965
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.