The Dragon Has Two Tongues: Essays on Anglo-Welsh Writers and Writing

The Dragon Has Two Tongues: Essays on Anglo-Welsh Writers and Writing

The Dragon Has Two Tongues: Essays on Anglo-Welsh Writers and Writing

The Dragon Has Two Tongues: Essays on Anglo-Welsh Writers and Writing


First published in 1968, The Dragon has Two Tongues was the first book-length study of the English-language literature of Wales. Written by one of Wales's major English-language writers of fiction and poetry, it includes chapters dealing with the work of Dylan Thomas, Caradoc Evans, Jack Jones, Gwyn Thomas and Idris Davies, all of whom Glyn Jones knew personally.

This first-hand knowledge of the writers, coupled with the shrewdness of Glyn Jones's critical comments, established The Dragon Has Two Tongues as an invaluable study of this generation of Welsh writers. At the same time, it contains Glyn Jones's own autobiographical reflections on his life and literary career, his loss and rediscovery of the Welsh language, and the cultural shifts which resulted in the emergence of a distinctive English-language literature in Wales in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Although a classic study, The Dragon Has Two Tongues has long been out-of-print. Tony Brown had the opportunity to discuss the book with Glyn Jones before his death in 1995 and has had access to Glyn Jones's own proposed revisions and to manuscript drafts. This first paperback edition therefore includes some updating of the text and a new bibliography.


During the closing years of his long life, Glyn Jones expressed the wish that The Dragon has Two Tongues, the first book-length study of the English-language literature of Wales, be republished. Discussion ensued, with my colleague Dr John Pikoulis and then with myself, as to quite what form this should take, given that some quarter of a century had ensued since its original publication, years in which, of course, much new writing, both creative and critical, had appeared. Glyn himself went through the text of The Dragon, identifying what would need updating and drafting some revisions to passages in the early chapters. He also drafted a Preface to the new edition, which indicated his intentions:

The Dragon has Two Tongues was first published in 1968. I had intended
in writing it that it should deal with a certain group of writers of our
country and with certain events and literary developments during the
previous thirty years or so in which these writers had been involved.

I think it would be a mistake for someone with my experience to
try to bring up to date here what I had to say in 1968. Far too much
has changed in Wales for me to attempt to do this adequately. The
events of the last quarter of a century surely deserve treatment in a
book by a different hand.

Glyn Jones felt, however, that clearly some revisions had to be undertaken – the insertion of dates of the deaths of those writers who had died since 1968, the correction, in his words, of ‘some errors of fact’ and the removal of ‘a few infelicities of expression’. He also wanted to incorporate as many as possible of the footnotes in the original edition into the text.

I have attempted as closely as possible to follow Glyn Jones’s wishes in editing this new text, including consulting his own copy of the book which contains his marginal queries. the death of some authors whom he discussed has of course necessitated some alteration of tenses, and some passages which deal with factual and statistical matters now well out of date have been revised or removed. Some explanatory notes have been added. the attempt has been, in other words, to produce a text which has few obvious signs of datedness and and to allow Glyn Jones’s account of the evolution of Wales’s English-language literature and his reflections on that first generation of writers, the writers whom he knew personally, to speak to the reader as freshly and directly as ever.

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