David Emery Gascoyne (1916-2001), Oxford dictionary of national biography.

Roger Scott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Commissioned in February 2004 by Professor Brian Harrison, Scott is concerned to emphasise that Gascoyne was much more than an avant-garde theoretician and practitioner and that the label ‘Surrealist’ had hung round his neck, albatross-like, in the public consciousness throughout his writing career. Scott believes he is that inarguably the major English religious poet of the second half of the twentieth century, and important to the twenty-first because of his ability to articulate the human condition profoundly with visionary clarity; wrestling with the pain consistent with living in the modern world. Like Giacometti, who also renounced his own Surrealist phase, Gascoyne looked to existential philosophy to find an accommodation with the agonizing problems of being and was highly attuned to the spiritual ambience of the age. The years 1979-1999 represented a late ‘renaissance’ for Gascoyne as a writer, thought by many to have died earlier. His work, never given the public recognition it deserves in Britain, is highly regarded by the French who presented him in 1996 with the award of Chevalier dans l’Ordre National des Arts et Lettres.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Dictionary of National Biography
EditorsH. G. C. Matthew, Brian Harrison
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages61472
ISBN (Print)9780198614111
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2005

Cite this