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Bibliographical Information
Trosiadau / Translations: Hen Dŷ Ffarm / Old Farmhouse, The
D.J. Williams
ISBN: 9781843230328 (1843230321)Publication Date August 2001
Publisher: Gwasg Gomer, Llandysul
Adapted/Translated by Waldo Williams.Format: Paperback, 352 pages Language: Bilingual (Welsh and English) Out of print Our Price: £12.95   
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A new edition of D.J. Williams's autobiographical classic full of warmth and wit, being his tribute to the inhabitants of the four parishes in his community, namely Llansawel and Caeo, Pencarreg and Llanybydder, including Waldo Williams's excellent translation which runs concurrently with the original.

Argraffiad newydd o glasur hunangofiannol y llenor cynnes a ffraeth D.J. Williams, sef ei deyrnged loyw i drigolion ei filltir sgwâr yn Llansawel a Chaeo, Pencarreg a Llanybydder, ynghyd â chyfieithiad Saesneg ardderchog Waldo Williams o'r gwaith sy'n rhedeg yn gyfochrog â'r gwreiddiol.
The English review follows the Welsh one.

Ymddangosodd campwaith D. J. Williams am y tro cyntaf ym 1953. Mae’r argraffiad newydd hwn i’w gael ochr yn ochr â chyfieithiad Waldo Williams i’r Saesneg, a gyhoeddwyd gyda nawdd UNESCO yn ôl ym 1961. Braf o beth i ddysgwyr yr iaith yw cael y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg gyda’i gilydd.

Ar y cyfan, hunangofiant a geir yma o flynyddoedd cynnar yr awdur ym mhentref Rhydcymerau a’r cyffiniau. Mae pwysigrwydd lleoliad a chymeriadau yn allweddol – mae ymrwymiad i deulu, i gymdeithas ac i lecynnau arbennig yn bethau i’w hedmygu. Uwchben popeth, efallai, y cymeriadau lliwgar a’r hyn a ddywedir am y natur ddynol sydd yn sefyll allan, a hynny mewn tafodiaith ddiddorol a Chymraeg cywrain.

Mae’r hiwmor yn amlwg hefyd. Sonnir am ei dad-cu (tad ei fam) ‘ei fod wedi danto – a hynny byth er pan ddug ei ail wraig ei drowser oddi arno, a’i wisgo ei hunan’. Neu am wncwl John Gwarcoed oedd yn ‘garwr sobor o slo’.

Thema arall sydd yn amlwg yw ymrwymiad yr awdur i Gymru a’i hiaith. Cawn sawl ymosodiad ar y ‘fwltur imperialaidd o Lundain’, gyda’r feirniadaeth fwyaf llym ar y cynllunio coedwigo yng ngogledd Sir Gaerfyrddin a thu hwnt. Dyma a ddywed D. J. Williams: ‘heddiw, cwat y gwdihw, yr ystlum a’r cadno yw’r hendre hon a fu unwaith yn llety ffyddlon i Seion, mewn gweddi a mawl – a’i thir yn tyfu coed ar gyfer rhyfel nesaf y Sais’.

Darllenais y gyfrol hon flynyddoedd yn ôl pan oeddwn, fel myfyriwr daearyddiaeth, yn ymddiddori mewn astudiaethau cymunedau cefn gwlad. Er i mi gael blas ar ei darllen o’r newydd, rhaid cyfaddef bod treiglad y blynyddoedd wedi achosi fy mod, yn fy meddwl fy hun, yn codi amheuon am y darlun cysurus, rhamantaidd a gor-sentimental efallai y mae’r awdur yn ei gyflwyno o gefn gwlad Cymru. Nid oes llawer o sylw i dreialon bywyd a realiti yr anawsterau o fyw yng nghefn gwlad, er y cawn ambell gyfeiriad at bobl yn marw'n ifanc, yn arbennig felly o achos y ddarfodedigaeth. Ond, i fod yn deg, nid dyma oedd amcan D. J. Williams. Roedd yn fachgen ei filltir sgwâr, ac mae’r llyfr hwn yn dystiolaeth am gyfnod arbennig. Mae ei ddisgrifiad o John Gwarcoed fel ‘hen lanc na chysgodd ond un noswaith oddi cartref yn ystod oes o bedwar ugain mlynedd’ yn dangos cymaint y mae’r Gymru wledig wedi newid ers y cyfnod a ddisgrifir gan D. J. Williams.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the 1960s UNESCO sponsored the translation of some classic works of literature in order ‘to bring to the bigger nations of the world some understanding of the smaller ones’. D. J. Williams’s The Old Farmhouse was one such work to be chosen. It was translated into English from the Welsh by Waldo Williams and first appeared in 1961. In this reprinted version the English translation appears side by side with the original Welsh. This makes the volume particularly attractive to Welsh learners.

The study is set in Rhydcymerau in north Carmarthenshire and deals with the period up to the First World War. The volume conveys in very detailed terms the author’s sense of place – this was his place. The landscape and characters he describes are full of symbolism and meaning. Indeed, it is his pictures of people which arguably stand out above all else – the tight family bonds, the mutual support and reciprocity, the religious adherence (but not a religious way of life which frowned upon humour and laughter) and the colourful and idiosyncratic in community life.

It is the characterisation of people and the portrayal of landscape which help us to understand D. J. Williams’s sense of place. He does, of course, paint a fairly cosy and, at times, even a sentimental picture of rural life. Some critics might even go as far as Howard Newby once did when he described studies such as this as ‘having the rose-tinted glasses of rural romanticism’. It is true that there is very little commentary on the difficulties of living in rural Wales at this time, although the author does point to high levels of premature death, mainly as a result of consumption. There are also numerous political and cultural comments relating, in particular, to the adverse effects of the forestation programmes in displacing people and communities and in destroying the Welsh language.

To be fair, the author is not guilty of ignoring change. He states that ‘the penny has become sovereign ... and the highest wage is the boast and pinnacle of our polity’. He talks in many places of ‘the present disregard of the values of our national life’. But these are not the principal aims of the volume. Rather the book is about (for the author) his unique ‘square mile’ at a particular time in history and, in this respect, The Old Farmhouse has been, and will remain, a classic in the tradition of studies of Welsh rural communities.

Richard H. Morgan

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.

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.
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