Wales and the French Revolution: Welsh Ballads of the French Revolution
|ISBN: 9780708324615 (0708324614)Dyddiad Cyhoeddi Chwefror 2012 |
Cyhoeddwr: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, CaerdyddFformat: Clawr Meddal, 234x156 mm, 490 tudalen
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Casgliad o faledi Cymraeg a gyfansoddwyd yn ystod cyfnod hynod o bwysig yn hanes gwareiddiad y Gorllewin. Mae'r testunau'n ymateb i derfysgoedd Ffrainc 1793-1815 ac yn canu am ymateb pobl gwledydd Prydain i drais y terfysgoedd.
An edition of Welsh ballads composed during a momentous period in the history of Western civilization. The texts respond to the upheavals of the Revolutionary decade and its aftermath, as people in Britain began to react to the violent deaths of the French monarchs, to the danger of invasion attempts or imitative revolts in Britain, and to the challenge of mobilization.
This valuable collection is the outcome of a project on Wales and the French Revolution led by the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth, and is one of a series of volumes which will illustrate how the Revolution, ‘perhaps the defining event of the Romantic period in Europe’, affected Welsh life and thought.
The subject of this volume is Welsh ballad literature of the Revolution period. Thirty-eight Welsh-language ballads are given in full with parallel English translations. There are detailed notes to each ballad and, most useful, the music of the tunes to which the ballads were sung is also given. A detailed introduction and a full bibliography complete the book.
Ballad sheets are notoriously transient and it is fortunate that so many ballads of this period have been preserved. They boast a richness of style and expression, with interesting differences in metre between north and south Wales. The particular value of this kind of popular literature is that, unlike official papers and newspapers, it gives an insight into attitudes other than the governmental in time of war. Although most ballads reflect broadly ‘loyalist’ views, supportive of Britain’s wars with France, there are varying emphases and often quite subtle differences of approach at different stages of the conflict between 1793 and 1815. Ballads were a means of disseminating information about aspects of the war, including notable events such as the ‘Glorious First of June’ in 1794 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Themes that emerge include the French landing in Pembrokeshire in 1797, the portrayal of leading figures such as Nelson and Napoleon, the emigration of Dissenters to America, and feelings about the militia and life in the regular army. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no strong tradition of radical balladry: as the editor says, ‘popular radicalism was almost certainly much less widespread than its loyalist counterpart’. There is some evidence to show that radical ballads were sung, but no doubt many were suppressed and never printed.
This most interesting work adds significantly to our knowledge of the ballad literature of the time and to our understanding of Wales’s response to the French Revolution and its aftermath. It whets the appetite for further volumes in the series.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment 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 ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Responding to Revolution
The Voices of Dissent: The ballads of south-west Wales (1793)
‘Faithful Britons’: The loyalist response (1793–4)
The Fishguard Invasion (1797): Loyalty, identity and the hand of God
Taking up Arms: Militia, volunteers and the army (1793–1815)
The Duke of York (1793, 1794)
The Glorious First of June and Cape St Vincent (1794, 1797)
Nelson ballads (1805)
Napoleon ballads (1812–15)
Dr Ffion Mair Jones has been a Research Fellow at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies since October 2001, working initially on the ‘Iolo Morganwg and the Romantic Tradition in Wales’ project and currently on the ‘Wales and the French Revolution Project’.
Scholars working on the British response to the Revolution have showed increasing interest in exploring the contents of ballads and songs. The ballad in particular is seen as a vital source of information, since it represents ordinary people’s awareness of the developments of the period. Balladry is also subject to continued research within Welsh scholarship, and this volume, with its focus on a clearly defined historical period and its revelation of new voices within the canon of Welsh ballad writers, will drive this field of study forwards.
Regional reactions to the Revolution within the British Isles are also now seen as crucially important, but Wales, partly because of the inaccessibility of material composed in the Welsh language, has repeatedly been omitted from the general picture. Welsh Ballads of the French Revolution (1793-1815) aids in rectifying this situation. It presents parallel translations of the text, copious contextualizing notes, and a lengthy introduction, providing access for the first time to a corpus of ballads composed by a host of little-known authors thus placing both Wales and the ballad as a genre on the map of British reactions to the Revolution in France.
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