A popular introduction to Welsh literature
This is the fourth in a series of occasional features about Wales to be posted in the months leading up to the first ever Dewithon, or Wales Readathon, which will take place from 1st to 31st March 2019.
Many years ago, while visiting The Bookshop in Mold, I bought a copy of Marion Eames’ A Private Language? along with The Literature of Wales by Dafydd Johnston, the latter of which I discussed in an earlier post.
Unlike Johnston, Eames was a non-academic with a keen interest in Welsh literature, so the publication she produced was far lighter in tone, though no less informative. She had been a librarian and journalist before becoming a BBC producer and scriptwriter in addition to writing several novels and children’s books. She endured ill health for many years and sadly passed away in 2007, a decade after publishing this book, which she had based on her notes from teaching an English-medium W.E.A. class on the history of Welsh literature.
Published by Gomer Press, A Private Language? gives a taste of Welsh literature from the sixth-century to the end of the twentieth-century based on ten lectures. It is primarily aimed at newcomers to Wales or those who have little or no knowledge of the Welsh language and its writers, and is ideally suited to anyone intimidated by more scholarly volumes.
Starting, as you would expect, with the earliest Welsh poetry, we travel through the centuries from the Bards of the Welsh Princes via the Bible and the Humanists up to twentieth-century writers such as the novelist Kate Roberts (1891-1985) and the controversial Catholic Nationalist, Saunders Lewis (1893-1985).
Eames’ text is enlightening and accessible to all readers. It is still possible to pick up a second-hand copy from Amazon.co.uk and no doubt other booksellers. I would highly recommend it to non Welsh-speaking Dewithoners wishing to discover the works of Welsh writers.
THIS HOUSE IS MY GHETTO
by Mike Jenkins
Why does ‘Cymru’
Stick to my tongue?
And the other ‘Wales’
Undo its meaning
And flow naturally?
I hear the word
Abused on television
Or ‘Come–roo’ even
Just after the Japanese Premier
Has been pronounced perfectly.
I’d like to say it without thinking
I’d like to stop explaining
Where we are in Europe.
Please feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts and suggestions.