Letters from Revolutionary France
|ISBN: 9780708316917 (0708316913)Dyddiad Cyhoeddi Gorffennaf 2001 |
Cyhoeddwr: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, CaerdyddGolygwyd gan Gavin Edwards
Fformat: Clawr Meddal, 216x138 mm, 224 tudalen
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Argraffiad gyda nodiadau manwl ar gasgliad o ddwsin o lythyrau at ffrind yn Llundain gan ddyddiadurwr a swyddog morwrol, Major Watkin Tench (1758-1833) tra oedd mewn carchar yn Quimper yn ystod y Chwyldro Ffrengig, yn adlewyrchu ei ymateb i gyfnod o derfysg a gwrthdaro gwleidyddol. 4 llun du-a-gwyn a 3 map.
A fully annotated edition of a collection of a dozen letters written to a friend in London by journalist and navel officer Major Watkin Tench (1758-1833), as he was held prisoner in Quimper during the French Revolution, reflecting his response to a period of great political upheaval and friction. 4 black-and-white illustrations and 3 maps.
These letters were written by Major Watkin Tench of the Marines in 1794 and 1795, while he was a prisoner of war in Brittany during the third phase of the French Revolution, inaugurated by the overthrow of Maximilien Robespierre, architect of the worst Terror.
Tench was a well-educated man from Chester, and probaby named for Sir Watkin Williams Wynn with whose family he was on friendly terms. Mr Edwards is an admirable and efficient editor. He points out that Tench's letters are unique from his political stance, as he remained supportive of the Revolution's original ideals despite the subsequent atrocities which alienated so many of his contemporaries and obviously disgusted him also. Tench was an observant man, who owned (in Letter III) that it was such an exciting time to be in France it almost tempted him not to regret being a prisoner despite the claims of 'love and friendship'! It helped, of course, that he was a fluent French speaker.
The letters, sometimes written in code to avoid discovery, give many details of daily life in the French navy, which he observed under harsh conditions as a prisoner on board Le Marat and then La Normandie in Brest Harbour. Later, he was moved to far more comfortable lodgings in a private house at Quimper and permitted to walk about the town and countryside quite freely so long as he remained within two or three miles of the town. He was eventually exchanged for a French officer in captivity in England where, as he points out, the French were far better treated than the English were in France in view of the appalling conditions under which most sailors had been held.
Mr Edwards has thoughtfully included, as one of the appendices, a contemporary review of Tench's book, published in 1796, by Mary Wollstonecraft. This makes fascinating reading in its own right: she pounces on his criticisms of weaknesses in the English navy and praises his 'penetration and philanthropy', especially his anti-slavery sentiments. One cannot do better than to echo Mary Wollstonecraft's judgment that his book 'affords information and entertainment'.
Mr Edwards has provided detailed and interesting notes, a chronology and bibliography and the book is fully indexed.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Letters from Revolutionary France
by Watkin Tench
Edited by Gavin Edwards
pp xxxviii186 inc 6 b/w ills. 2001
paperback £9.99 ISBN 0-7083-1691-3
hardback £20.00 ISBN 0-7083-1692-1
Letters Written in France to a Friend in London is a vivid and astute
first-hand account of the French Revolution as experienced by Major Watkin Tench, a Marine
officer held prisoner in the town of Quimper, Brittany in 179495. Tench
(17581833) had previously been a prisoner of the French in Maryland during the War
of American Independence and had taken part in the founding of the New South Wales convict
colony in 1788.
The story of Major Watkin Tench . . . is well worth the telling . . .
a vivid account of the French Revolution, especially of a country in turmoil and undergoing rapid, fundamental change, and of the reaction in Brittany, where Catholicism issues fuelled resistance to the centralist and atheist Jacobins. (Western Mail)
Érudit mais sobre, louvrage est en outre un modèle dédition: une
indroduction claire, une chronologie, des notes expliquant la moindre référence
à lépoque, des documents dépoque, un index . . . À traduire et vite!
Accounts by British prisoners held in France during the early years of the wars between 1793 and 1815 are rare, so the twelve letters of Watkin Tench, a major in the marines, describing his imprisonment from November 1794 to May 1795, are significant. First published in 1796, the letters have been expertly edited by Gavin Edwards, whose introduction gives a brief summary of Tenchs life and sets it in its historical and literary context. This is a valuable essay, disentangling the various stages of the revolution in France, showing their effect on Tenchs imprisonment, and examining Tenchs firm Whig political principles . . . Helpful maps locate places mentioned in the text, and a useful bibliography enables readers to pursue interests aroused by this fascinating book. International Journal of Maritime History
. . . considerable scholarship and archival research have been developed to elucidate this text. Journal for Maritime Research
. . . an astute record of a critical phase in the French Revolution . . . Good Reading
Tenchs letters (from Quimper and from the French ships le Marat and le
Normandie in Brest harbour) give a powerful sense of a country caught up in a process
of rapid and unpredictable change at a time when counter-revolutionary uprisings in rural
Brittany were being fuelled by differences in religion and language.
This fully-annotated edition includes an introduction placing Tenchs work in its
historical, literary and cultural contexts. It will appeal not only to students and
scholars of history and literature, but to all those interested in the French Revolution
as well as in military and maritime history at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Gavin Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in Literature at the University of Glamorgan.
He is the editor of George Crabbe: Selected Poems (1991) and the author of George
Crabbes Poetry on Border Land (1990) in addition to many articles and essays on
eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British writing, eighteenth-century travel writing, and
theories of narrative.
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