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Reading Dylan Thomas$
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Edward Allen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474411554

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474411554.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Nosing Around: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog

Nosing Around: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog

(p.36) Chapter 2 Nosing Around: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog
Reading Dylan Thomas

Rod Mengham

Edinburgh University Press

This essay triangulates Dylan Thomas’s 1940 collection of stories, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, with Franz Kafka’s ‘Investigations of a Dog’ (1922) and a portion of Stefan Themerson’s writing, to compare the different ways in which they experiment conceptually with imaginary species-shifting. Thomas’s syntax, collocations of vocabulary, and very choice of title show that he is thinking in this work about a mode of apprehension of the world that is mobile, resourceful, omnivorous, semi-domesticated, smelly, noisy, and completely without prejudice in its assessment of the grounds for helping friends and harming enemies. This is a prose for paying attention, listening and nosing the air: a prose whose vigilance is effectively unending – it does not employ a sentence structure that ever feels complete, it simply pauses for rest. And there is a politics of a sort to this ‘canine’ syntax. The title of his collection of stories might seem jocular, but it hints at an insistence on a serious need to see, hear, taste and smell the world with heightened senses requiring an equivalent linguistic form of shape-shifting.

Keywords:   Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, Short story, Prose, Thought experiment, Franz Kafka, Stefan Themerson

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