The Disciplines of War, Memory, and Writing

Shakespeare’s Henry V and David Jones’s In Parenthesis

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 Trinity College, Cambridge adp1000@cam.ac.uk
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David Jones's In Parenthesis (1937) is the most ambitious attempt in English literary writing to commemorate the experience of the Great War. In its allusions to Shakespeare's Henry V Jones is less interested in the king than in 'Fluellen' and his mantra, 'the disciplines of war'. In Parenthesis de-centres not just Henry V, not just Shakespeare, but the conventional reading of English literary history itself. Important as the idea of discipline was to Jones - disciplines of war, of memory, of art - in the figure of 'Dai Great-coat' he celebrates an excess that challenges and eludes what 'Fluellen' represents. In doing so Jones exposes the uses and the limits of Shakespeare for the creative artist writing in English, not least when it comes to representing the experience of war and the action of memory.

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