THOMAS (EDWARD) Autograph article headed "Pioneers! O Pioneers!", being his review of The Lost Art of Reading by Gerald Stanley Lee, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, "Edward Thomas, Rose Acre, Bearsted, nr Maidstone", no date [June or July 1903]

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Lot 289
THOMAS (EDWARD)
Autograph article headed "Pioneers! O Pioneers!", being his review of The Lost Art of Reading by Gerald Stanley Lee, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, "Edward Thomas, Rose Acre, Bearsted, nr Maidstone", no date [June or July 1903]

Sold for £ 2,125 (US$ 2,728) inc. premium
ROBERT FROST, EDWARD THOMAS AND THE DYMOCK POETS
THOMAS (EDWARD)
Autograph article headed "Pioneers! O Pioneers!", being his review of The Lost Art of Reading by Gerald Stanley Lee, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, opening: "When a man uses the Washington monument as a pen, & the Atlantic as an ink pot, the result will probably be sublime & certainly obscure. Mr. G.S. Lee having taken these liberties is obscure & sublime. As Clothes are to Sartor Resartus, so to his Volume are Books. We have come upon pages that seemed to make pertinent this comparison. On the other hand, we have come upon pages that left us conscious of nothing but the author's colossal ink pot & pen. We can pretty confidently assert that, among the evils which we have suffered in this book, laughter & indignation are those by which we came nearest to our death. We profess therefore a humble & wondering blindness to half the book. From the other half, we have rescued these fragments – like weird, battered remnants of a splendid legion..."; written in a neat hand, with one or two minor revisions, 4 pages, attached by a paper-fastener at upper left-hand corner, "Edward Thomas, Rose Acre, Bearsted, nr Maidstone", no date [June or July 1903]

Footnotes

  • 'WHEN A MAN USES THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT AS A PEN & THE ATLANTIC AS AN INK POT' – Edward Thomas on the latest would-be Walt Whitman of American letters. Gerald Stanley Lee was a Congregational minister who wrote at a drift-wood desk while minting the highest of high-flown aspirational aphorisms. The book, which Thomas here reviews under sardonic quotation from Whitman's famous polemic, was published in 1903, receiving a notice in the New York Times on 27 June 1903 ('...Mr. Gerald Stanley Lee, whose book on "The Lost Art of Reading" deserves further consideration, is a preacher of the gospel of "fullness and leisure and power of living": of unconsciousness, of "not knowing what time it is." He is an enemy of the modern forms of culture, reading, and especially of "analysis"...').

    Edward Thomas lived at Rose Acre, the address given at the head of his article, from October 1901 until July 1903. His review, following on upon its opening salvo, is made up of choice extracts from the book in question, leading off with: "The world... needs a prophet – a man who can gather about him a few brave-hearted, intelligently ignorant men, who shall go about with their beautiful feet on the mountains, telling the good tidings of how many things there are we do not need to know...". He ends by suggesting that the book should come with "a grammar & dictionary of the American tongue" and that "we shall heartily welcome an English translation of 'The Lost Art of Reading'". (His advocacy, a little over a decade later, of Robert Frost shows of course that he was not averse to the real transatlantic article.) This article is not listed by Jeff Cooper, Edward Thomas: Towards a Complete Checklist of His Published Writings (2017).
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