Quiddities & Haecceities

Paul Keegan writing[£] about the poet/artist David Jones in the latest edition of the London Review of Books:

The supposed pedantry or antiquarianism of Jones’s procedures, visual as well as verbal, are deceptive. He relied on anachronism, sly private reference and a conviction that accuracy was allied to distortion, just as the distortions of idiomatic usage were the maker’s mark of the individual: this person not that person. ‘Nothing excellent that is not odd,’ he said of his annual rereading of John Collier’s His Monkey Wife. He objected in general to biography as being ‘too little “about chaps”’ – by which he meant ‘contradictory, or anyway, complex quiddities & haecceities’ – and he thought no biographer was equipped to write more than one Life in one lifetime. Dilworth has measured up to this latter stricture, and is attentive to Jones as a chap, rather than ordering the life at the cost of its recalcitrant and scattered realia, since for Jones everything bore witness.

My sentiments exactly.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

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