Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

Synopsis

A fairly new phenomenon in the Welsh literary tradition, the Essay only became a recognized literary form in the Welsh language in the 1920's due to the pioneering work of its first great exponent T.H. Parry Williams. Since then the essay has flourished in Welsh literature and ILLUMINATIONS AN ANTHOLOGY WELSH SHORT PROSE gives the English reader access to this rich literary vein. In addition to the essays themselves, Meic Stephens also provides a brief biographicalo note on each writer and useful explanatory information on incidents or references mentioned in each essay.

Excerpt

Like so much else, the essay (or more properly yr ysgrif, since it differs in some important respects from its English counterpart) was a late arrival in modern Welsh literature. It may have had forerunners in the latter part of the nineteenth century, in the primarily didactic work of certain Radical authors, but only in the 1920s, when T. H. Parry-Williams began publishing his ysgrifau in the magazine Y Llenor, was the essay recognized as a distinct literary form in Welsh.

T.H. Parry-Williams brought to his prose the same rich vernacular, the same wit and erudition, the same sceptical mind, that give his verse its unique quality, and indeed, the difference between his poems and essays is sometimes a subtle one. By the time of his death in 1975 he had published more than a hundred essays and had for long been acknowledged as a master of the genre. Such was his achievement as an essayist that he was to have many imitators, notably in the competitions set at the National Eisteddfod, and great were their endeavours in reproducing his special effects, often to the point of pastiche. It might be argued that the development of the essay since the 1940s has been, for not a few Welsh writers, an attempt to shake off T.H. Parry-Williams's influence and take the form in new directions.

That this has happened to a very considerable extent is largely attributable to the renewed vitality of writing in the Welsh language since the second world war, and in particular to the dedication of a number of accomplished practitioners such as T.J. Morgan, D. Tecwyn Lloyd, and Islwyn Ffowc Elis, who chose the essay in which to express themselves. in their work, as in that of later writers, the horizons of the essay in Welsh have been extended, quite literally so, for there has been as much memorable writing about foreign parts as there has on subjects closer to home. If nostalgia, or at least a fascination with the past, its certainties and rigours, is still the . . .

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