Imagining Wales: A View of Modern Welsh Writing in English

Imagining Wales: A View of Modern Welsh Writing in English

Imagining Wales: A View of Modern Welsh Writing in English

Imagining Wales: A View of Modern Welsh Writing in English

Synopsis

This volume deals with the 20th-century literature that is either Anglo-Welsh or relates to Wales. The argument of how writers 'ground' themselves in their imagined Wales is also examined.

Excerpt

In this book I look closely at the work of some of the most vital and challenging modern Welsh writers in English. These include Emyr Humphreys, John Cowper Powys, David Jones, R. S. Thomas, Alun Lewis, Gillian Clarke, Roland Mathias, Tony Conran and Hilary Llewellyn-Williams. My critical engagement with these writers has developed over a period of thirty years, and is rooted in excited recognition. As an English poet and critic who first came to live in Wales in 1965 my involvement with Welsh writing in English has entailed a dual process of learning. As I have educated myself in the writing so the writing has taught me more about aspects of Welsh culture and identity. the excitement of recognition has been partly 'that thrill of excitement' to which T. S. Eliot refers in 'A Note of Introduction' to In Parenthesis. This excitement, 'from our first reading of a work of literature which we do not understand', is, Eliot says, 'itself the beginning of understanding'. My excitement has also been partly that of participating in the pioneer work of criticizing and teaching Welsh writing in English. the desire to share discoveries in this valuable but, until recently, relatively neglected field is one of my principal motives as a critic.

It follows from this that it is not my aim to provide a comprehensive survey of the subject. Two areas in particular are largely outside my focus on the present occasion. One is the literature of urban, industrial and post-industrial Wales, an important area requiring detailed consideration in its own right. the other is the work of younger writers who have come into prominence in recent years. If my aims were more comprehensive I would also have included a chapter on Dylan Thomas and attempted a much fuller treatment of R. S. Thomas. I could say that these omissions are simply due to the fact that this book is not meant to be a survey of the whole field. and that would be true. There are other truths that should be recorded, however. As a critic of 'poetry of place' I have concentrated on the work of writers who have constructed . . .

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