That Dylan Thomas, like Scott Fitzgerald, will always be, in some form or another, a sentimental favorite, by now goes without saying. What posterity will think of him as a serious poet, however, is very much in doubt. Professor Maud, the editor of this collection, once spoke of Thomas' genius for making common words ""tantalizingly unfamiliar, pressed...into strange image-combinations,"" and others have remarked on the Welshman's fusion of surrealistic properties with Celtic fantasy. Such attributes are in almost wearying abundance in the pages of his four manuscript notebooks, dating from 1930-34, written between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. Since they chronicle the youthful poet's development, showing him often to be working in a white heat of unbridled imagination, they should surely prove a treasure chest for interested scholars. Some of the poems subsequently became famous, others were drawn upon and refashioned by the older Thomas, but most (fortunately for Thomas' reputation) were treated like forgotten children. Thus, the reading of these notebooks do little to alter one's previous impressions. At his worst, Thomas' bardic histrionics are either vulgar or quaint. Only when he had a rhetorical structure which could shape the wild lyricism into incantatory patterns was Thomas the spellbinder legend makes him out to be. The notebooks offer relatively few moments of glory; the rest is tinsel. With an excellent annotative introduction.