John Ackerman wants to dispel two pervasive myths about Dylan Thomas (1914–53): that Thomas was the colorful drunk and rhapsodizing lyrist portrayed in works like J. M. Brinnin’s memoir Dylan Thomas in America, and that Thomas, having dissipated the inspiration of his angelic youth, spent his last years as a sort of traveling clown, besotted by drink and poetically impotent. In place of these myths, Ackerman presents Thomas the working-class Welsh bard, relatively sober and productive to the end. “Now that Thomas is accepted as a great twentieth-century poet and prose writer, the tides of sensationalism and denigration largely ebbed away, we can trace his professional commitment both in films and broadcasting that contributed to his later development, in poetry and prose, and also the ordinariness of his life.” Whether Thomas merits inclusion in the pantheon of twentieth-century greats remains open to question. What seems...


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