Almanac: Yearbook of Welsh Writing in English, No. 13
|ISBN: 9781905762750 (1905762755)Publication Date May 2009|
Publisher: Parthian Books, CardiganEdited by Katie Gramich
Format: Paperback, 218x133 mm, 238 pages
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A collection of critical essays by renowned scholars dealing with various aspects of literature, both poetry and prose, written in English in Wales during the 20th and 21st century.
Casgliad o draethodau beirniadol gan ysgolheigion cydnabyddedig yn ymwneud ag amryfal agweddau ar lenyddiaeth, yn farddoniaeth a rhyddiaith Saesneg, a ysgrifennwyd yng Nghymru yn ystod yr 20fed a'r 21ain ganrif.
This year’s Almanac (2009) contains a selection of academic papers that are both diverse and complementary, beginning with Damian Walford Davies’s densely erudite analysis of the influence of W.B. Yeats on R.S. Thomas and closing with Matthew Jarvis’s refutation of Malcolm Ballin’s alleged ‘implication [...] that there is very little of international interest or origin in the early Poetry Wales’. Between these very different end pieces are ranged articles on Hilda Vaughan, Nigel Heseltine, R.S. Thomas, William Emrys Williams, the London Kelt, and Islwyn Ffowc Elis. And the whole is, of course, completed with the indispensable bibliography of criticism.
The two papers on R.S. Thomas work well together, with Walford Davies concentrating on the connection with Yeats, and Sam Perry looking more widely at the influence of Irish poets. Perry’s analysis of the theory that it was reading Patrick Kavanagh’s ‘The Great Hunger’ that released Thomas into a new, non-Georgian portrayal of rural life is both fascinating and convincing. Similarly complementary is the juxtaposition of pieces on Hilda Vaughan and Nigel Heseltine – near contemporaries with similar class backgrounds who took such different approaches in their writing – and I especially enjoyed Lucy Thomas’s exploration of code-switching in Vaughan’s work. The final ‘pairing’ is between the articles on William Emrys Williams and the London Kelt, both of which focus on Welshness in exile and the ambivalences and ambiguities surrounding identity. Craig Owen Jones’s study of Islwyn Ffowc Elis’s Wythnos Yng Nghymru Fydd stands alone and apart as the only paper on a Welsh-language author.
Essential reading for academics and literary critics, Almanac will also appeal to anyone with a serious interest in Welsh writing in English.
Suzy Ceulan Hughes
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.
Critic, editor. Born in Rhydlewis, Ceredigion. Studied English and Spanish Literature at the University of Wales Aberystwyth and King's College, London, before going on to do a doctorate in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta, Canada. Has held academic posts at the University of Wales, Swansea; Portsmouth University; Trinity College in Carmarthen; and the Open University. Currently Chair of the Association for Welsh Writing in English and co-editor of the Honno Classics series. Her research interests are in the literature of Wales in both languages, women's writing, post-colonial and translation studies. She is currently Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University.
Almanac: The Yearbook of Welsh Writing in English is a stimulating academic journal featuring new research by established and emerging critics in the field. Almanac aims to engage in a lively and informed way both with the Welsh literary past and with contemporary writing, looking towards the future and outwards towards the rest of the world.
This edition includes two incisive and innovative essays on the towering figure in modern Anglophone Welsh poetry, R. S. Thomas, relating his work to that of W. B. Yeats and to Irish writing generally. It also offers important new critical evaluations of unjustifiably neglected literary figures, namely Hilda Vaughan, William Emrys Williams and Nigel Heseltine. The science fiction of the Welsh-language writer, Islwyn Ffowc Elis, is subjected to probing analysis, while the turn-of-the-century London-Welsh magazine, The London Kelt, reveals much about the construction of Wales in exile. Finally, the early issues of Poetry Wales are found to be more international in outlook than previously assumed. The edition also includes the indispensible annual bibliography of criticism in the field. All in all, Almanac continues with its mission to engage with and stimulate its readers with a range of thought-provoking and illuminating new material.
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