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Simplify Me: The Life of Keith Douglas Reviews

Simplify Me: The Life of Keith Douglas by Richard Burton

Simplify me: The life of Keith Douglas

Richard Burton

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Imprint: Infinite Ideas Limited
Publisher: Infinite Ideas Limited
Publication date: 20 Jul 2020
ISBN: 9781913022242

Burton's life of Keith Douglas, the most important poet of the Second World War, is the first for fifty years. Douglas had a short but eventful life. Born in 1920 in Kent, he was awarded an Open Exhibition to Merton College, Oxford. He spent most of the war in the desert campaign and died in action in Normandy shortly after the D-Day Landings.

3 stars out of 5
1 Aug 2020

"urton’s good-natured new biography is distinguished by an almost fanatical diligence"

But Burton is the kind of biographer who throws everything into the suitcase while resisting any kind of analysis. There is little here on the wider war, or on where Douglas might belong in the changing fashions of poetry. And there is too little on Douglas’s depression (he called it his ‘Bête Noir’), and the strange cartoon-like drawings he often used to illustrate his writings.

He was shipped back to Britain in late 1943 and as he was waiting for D-Day wrote his final known poem. ‘The next month, then, is a window,’ he speculates: ‘and with a crash I’ll split the glass.’ He was killed in a ditch three days after landing in Normandy.