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Gwybodaeth Lyfryddol
Appearance of Evil, The - Apparitions and Spirits in Wales
Edmund Jones
ISBN: 9780708318546 (0708318541)Dyddiad Cyhoeddi Tachwedd 2003
Cyhoeddwr: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, Caerdydd
Golygwyd gan John Harvey Fformat: Clawr Meddal, 168x240 mm, 176 tudalen Iaith: Saesneg Allan o Stoc - Archebir yn l y galw Ein Pris: £17.99 
Does dim Adolygiad Cwsmer i'r teitl hwn.
 
Ysgrifennwch Adolygiad Cwsmer
Argraffiad newydd o Apparitions of Spirits in Wales, gan y Parchedig Edmund Jones (1702-93), cofnod o dros 130 o dystiolaethau i ymweliadau bodau goruwchnaturiol yng Nghymru yn yr 17eg a'r 18eg ganrif, gyda chyflwyniad gan John Harvey. Cyhoeddwyd gyntaf yn 1780. 4 llun lliw ac 20 llun du-a-gwyn.

A new edition of Apparitions of Spirits in Wales by the Reverend Edmund Jones (1702-93), a record of over 130 testimonies to supernatural appearances in Wales in the 17th and 18th centuries, with an introduction by John Harvey. First published in 1780. 4 colour and 20 black-and-white illustrations.
This edition brings together all Edmund Jones's accounts of apparitions in Wales. His surviving second book (1780) is combined with all that remains of his first collection from 1767 (transcribed by E.I. Williams) and also with relevant accounts from Jones's 1779 account of the Monmouth parish of Aberystruth. The editor has omitted some material on England and has clarified Jones's spelling and syntax but retained his idiosyncratic and lively style. Most importantly, Professor Harvey has furnished an excellent introduction and epilogue which set the man and his accounts in the context of his time and place. He also provides detailed notes both on Jones and on comparable accounts. As an artist with particular interest in the visual culture of Welsh religion, he has chosen to include a few illustrations not strictly relevant. However, he does make the point that the very lack of visual icons in the religious world of Jones and his sources give the accounts a kind of 'folk-art' originality, building the simplest natural elements of darkness, beasts, wind and fire into presences of elemental fear.

Edmund Jones was a self-taught nonconformist minister who preached and travelled widely in Wales in the eighteenth century. He was based in the Pontypool area when it was a sparsely populated rural backwater. His collected accounts are drawn from many areas of Wales, but the majority of his informants were nonconformist ministers and their rural congregations. At that time, educated opinion, even in the churches, had moved away from the paranoia of inquisitors and witchfinders to scepticism concerning all supernatural phenomena – even that related in scripture. Jones and his fellow believers cherished testimonies to the existence of spirits of all kinds in order to combat the trend to Deism and atheism. This led him to amass a wonderful range of stories from ordinary, pre-industrial Welsh people which give insights not only into their fears but also their daily lives and landscapes.

While many of the accounts suggest experiences rooted in incipient sickness or the confusions of alcohol and dark, lonely travelling, some seem to show the extraordinary survival of pre-Christian concepts and also of presently persisting phenomena. I found it most interesting that Jones records many accounts of people being commanded by ghosts to take coins and metal objects from where they had been hidden and to cast them into rivers and ponds. He is puzzled by this and guesses that it was meanness on the part of the dead. Modern archaeologists have widespread evidence from the Bronze age of the ritual placing of treasure, tools and weapons in water as a way of giving them to the ancestors or gods. Welsh folktales suggest another world through the surface of water but I know of no conscious continuity of the practice.

Surprisingly, Jones includes and indeed contributes his own accounts of dancing and feasting fairies, although he is a bit unsure where they fit in the spirit world in which he is so keen to believe.

Many will recognise examples among his stories of the persisting modern experiences of deja vu, transportation/abduction, poltergeists and strange lights over Cardigan Bay! Despite his intention that these stories should testify to God's power and mercy, very few are benign visions and even these he is reluctant to call angelic. Professor Harvey points out that (though they do share apparitions of fire and stars) there are none of the visions of Christ and angels frequently referred to during the 1904-5 revival by congregations then familiar with nineteenth century Bibles and church art. In presenting the style and content of Edmund Jones's stories and in his own illuminating commentary John Harvey has made a fascinating, enjoyable and scholarly contribution to the field.

Caroline Clark

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 defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Does dim Adolygiad Cwsmer, hyd yma, i'r llyfr hwn.
 
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