Bonds of Sentiment
January 24, 2022 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Denton Welch -- restorer of immaculate doll houses, painter, writer -- wrote for only eight years before passing away in his thirties. And yet in his short life, which stretched from England to Shanghai, he found himself at the heart of a web of writers from Roald Dahl to William Burroughs, crafting an acutely observed, quasi-colonialist, literature of personal and emotional displacement that ties together a sub-canon of the subaltern, sexually complex, and aesthetically charged. A role model to John Waters and influence on Auden, Forster, and Sitwell, his melancholy and dyspeptic presence seems right to recommend for a winter's read.
posted by SandCounty (10 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
This is beautiful. I had not known of this young author. I will be reading his books now.
posted by Czjewel at 4:06 PM on January 24

Thank you for this! I'd never heard of him (which doesn't seem to be unusual, sadly). What a fascinating and brutally short life and a great collection of links to go through.
posted by fight or flight at 4:13 PM on January 24

New to me and not in our local library system. Hm. He has a blog fan which might also be of interest.
posted by BWA at 4:53 PM on January 24

I read about this guy in the London Review of Books. One of those oddball outsiders that William Burroughs venerated.
Not as excessive as Alexander Trocchi, fortunately ("he could find a vein in a Mummy").
posted by Narrative_Historian at 1:07 AM on January 25

Thanks for posting this. I had never heard of Welch and the books sound interesting, if wrenching.
posted by chavenet at 5:03 AM on January 25

PSA for those like me who want to read these books: They are available on Hoopla.
posted by Clustercuss at 8:21 AM on January 25

I found my way to Welch's writing about fifteen years ago and am very much a fan: thanks for the post, SandCountry. I particularly enjoyed his shorter prose works, which I was lucky enough to obtain in the 2-volume edition, 'Where Nothing Sleeps', issued by the Tartarus Press. When posting about Welch on my long-defunct blog, I quoted this assessment of his writing, which had caught my eye:
Some might accuse Welch of being an overly precious writer, which, in fact, he is. He’s the kind of obsessive queen for whom the perfect teacup, jam and biscuits are infinitely more important than, say, world peace. But beneath the preciousness is the fertile grit of humanness. Welch’s self-awareness rarely slips into self-indulgence because his pointed observational powers dissect everything and everyone in his path, narrow as it was. He was a literary psychologist with an equally keen eye for damaged china and hypocrisy.--Ernie McLeod.
posted by misteraitch at 10:28 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]

Thank you for this FPP. I had not heard of Denton Welch before, and I am really enjoying learning more about him.

Writing and biography covered well in the links, but are there any further resources on Welch's paintings, which seem almost equally fascinating to me?
posted by seasparrow at 4:36 PM on January 27

Some of his portraits remind me of William Bruce Ellis Ranken, who would have been about a generation older, but I am especially taken at how he’s captured the essence of this wise, blepping tabby.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:10 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]

(OK, that could be a chin instead of a tongue, but emotionally I need it to be a tongue.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:13 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]

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