Who Speaks for Wales? - Nation, Culture, Identity
|ISBN: 9780708317846 (0708317847)Publication Date February 2018|
Publisher: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, CardiffEdited by Daniel Williams
Format: Paperback, 216x138 mm, 300 pages
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A collection of the writings of Raymond Williams being essays and articles, lectures and conversations on various aspects of Welsh culture, literature, history and politics, which throw light on his ideas about nationhood and identity, and which have appeared previously in various publications, 1971-89. First published in March 2003.
Casgliad hynod ddiddorol o ysgrifau ac erthyglau, darlithoedd a sgyrsiau Raymond Williams ar amryfal agweddau ar ddiwylliant a llenyddiaeth, hanes a gwleidyddiaeth Cymru, sy'n taflu goleuni ar ei syniadau am hunaniaeth genedlaethol, ac a ymddangosodd eisoes mewn amrywiol gyhoeddiadau, 1971-89. Cyhoeddwyd yn wreiddiol yn 2003.
The editor of Who speaks for Wales hopes that it represents a 'definitive collection of Williams critical writing on Wales'. Not knowing Raymond Williamss work means I cannot comment on this statement, but the book has certainly instilled in me a desire to rectify that position.
The detailed introduction provides useful information about Williamss life and his influences and also offers a critical analysis of other writers who have discussed his work. The editor finds that few, if any, have understood or paid attention to, the centrality of Wales to Raymond Williamss thinking. This, it is claimed, is further evidence of the marginalisation that both Wales and Williams suffer. Williams himself discusses the loss of Welsh identities, subsumed under England or, worse, the UK (or the YooKay, as he calls it).
The book is divided into four sections: culture, history, literature and politics, yet the nature of Williamss writing means that common threads run throughout the book. Thus, discussion on the concept of nations crops up in all four sections.
This was a key issue for Williams: What is a nation? What is Wales and how can we define it? Whilst he believes that culture is central, he then questions the basis of culture. Is it language, history, religion, myths? All of these are problematic and contain divisions and disagreements within Wales. Who decides who speaks for Wales? Williams believed emphatically that plurality was crucial yet some people argue that he didnt pay much attention in his writing to the role of ethnic minorities or women. And these omissions are noticeable. Serendipitously, I was reading Charlotte Williamss autobiographical book Sugar and Slate at the same time as reading Who speaks for Wales?. It is interesting to note that whilst Raymond Williams believed everybody had a voice, Charlottes black Welsh experience was quite different.
Whilst many of the articles in this book encourage deeper thought and reflection, there are also more lyrical pieces. One evocative article, entitled Black Mountains, had me reaching for a map afterwards, exploring on paper the landscape he had vividly described.
In this book Raymond Williams raises lots of questions and offers some answers, but also prompts the reader to think for themselves. And the detailed references provided by the editor offer useful information to aid ones journey. This book offers much for those who already know his work, and even more for those who have just discovered him.
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 ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Raymond Williams was born in 1921 in the Welsh border village of Pandy and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was for many years Staff Tutor with the Oxford University Extra-Mural Delegacy until his election in 1961 as Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1974 he was appointed Professor of Drama at Cambridge. He died in 1988.
Daniel Williams is Lecturer in English Literature and Assistant Director of the Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales at the University of Wales, Swansea. He has published widely on questions of national and ethnic identity, particularly in relation to British and American literatures.
Who Speaks for Wales? - Nation, Culture, Identity
Edited by Daniel Williams
pp liii246 216 x 138mm October 2007 (reprint)
Paperback £18.99 0-7083-1784-6
Hardback £30.00 0-7083-1785-5
In the words of Cornel West, Raymond Williams was 'the last of the great European male revolutionary socialist intellectuals'. A figure of international importance in the fields of literary criticism and social theory, Williams was also preoccupied throughout his life with the meaning and significance of his Welsh identity.
Who Speaks for Wales? is the first collection of Raymond Williams's writings on Welsh culture, literature, history and politics. It brings together material that has long been overlooked by commentators on his work, and emphasizes both the centrality of his Welshness to his work as a whole, and the continuing relevance of his thought for post-devolution Wales.
Daniel Williams's introduction offers an original reading of Raymond Williams's thought from a Welsh perspective and underlines the ways in which his engagement with Welsh issues makes a significant contribution to contemporary debates on nationalism and ethnicity. Who Speaks for Wales? will be essential reading for everyone interested in questions of identity, nationhood and ethnicity in Britain and beyond.
'Where is the real identity, the real culture?' Raymond Williams asks in this book. At a time when the European Union is strengthening supranational and regional ties and the Left is trying make sense of various particularistic identities, Williams's 'Welsh-European' writing, his 'regionally shaded' cultural critique, deserves the widest attention. Daniel Williams who has here edited the whole corpus of Williams's Welsh-focused non-fiction writings, book reviews, interviews, and fugitive pieces, also presents, in the introduction, a convincing defence of Raymond Williams against such critics as Edward Said and Paul Gilroy and a cogent rationale for Williams's continuing significance. Anyone interested in literary-historical criticism from the Left, in the issues of Welshness and of the tradition of a border country within the "Yookay" specifically, or in the problems of regional and national identity generally, will want to read Who Speaks for Wales?'
Werner Sollors, author of Beyond Ethnicity and Neither Black Nor White Yet Both
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