THE DEWITHON 20 DIARY
Dewithon is an opportunity for book bloggers around the world to discover Welsh writers and their works (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, in fact anything written in English or Welsh with links to the nation of Wales).
We will begin our 31 days of celebration on Sunday 1st March 2020 (St. David’s Day), with the first of four readalong posts scheduled for 7th March. There are plenty of useful links and reading suggestions at DHQ (Dewithon Headquarters) and in our Wales Readathon Library, but please don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are struggling to get started. You are free to read and write on any literary subject relating to Wales, but if you are one of those people who prefer a little structure to your readathons, I make the following suggestion:
The Official Dewithon 20 Book
The title I am inviting you to read, review and discuss with me in March is the English translation of Un Nos Ola Leuad (One Moonlit Night) by Caradog Prichard (1904-1980), a lost contemporary classic, felt by many to be in dire need of rediscovery.
This novel, first published in 1961, is set in the Welsh town of Bethesda (referred to throughout as “the Village”) in the years 1915-1920 and tells the story of a mother-son relationship from the perspective of the boy.
Prichard made his name in Wales as one of the writers of the Caernarfonshire quarrying district and his book contains a great many biographical details, especially in relation to his family and the seemingly hard-working, devout, politically aware rural folk of his childhood.
One Moonlit Night is held by many to be one of Britain’s most significant and brilliant pieces of fiction, recalling Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood – indeed, it was described in the Observer as “lyrical and visceral, compellingly earthy and maddeningly gothic […while continuing] to elude classification.”
I have chosen this book partly because we read a non-fiction title, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies for our first-ever Dewithon in 2019, which, of course, took place in several countries, including the USA and Canada. This year’s choice is a fictional narrative set entirely in north-west Wales – be it a mythologically subversive version of the writer’s hometown. My main reason for picking this work is because One Moonlight Night was, in 2014, selected as The Greatest Welsh Novel by a panel of literary experts and an online public poll of more than 1,400 readers of Wales Arts Review. I therefore hope it will be darllen da (which, very roughly translates as ‘a good read’).
My Canongate copy, published in 2009, is 178 pages long (including the foreword, translator’s notes, afterword etc.), but I’m sure every edition will differ slightly. Should you wish to break the book down into discussable sections and share your thoughts as you read, I would suggest the following:
WEEK ONE (Sunday 1st March to Saturday 7th March): Chapters 1-4
WEEK TWO (Sunday 8th March to Saturday 14th March): Chapters 5-8
WEEK THREE (Sunday 15th March to Saturday 21st March): Chapters 9-11
WEEK FOUR (Sunday 22nd March to Tuesday 31st March): Chapters 12-15
As an aside, some of you may be interested to learn that Caradog Prichard was depicted as a red-haired Welsh farmer in Susan Cooper’s book, The Grey King. Like the author, he is a mortal poet. In this novel, however, his character is completely crazy from spending the night on a Welsh mountain and, worse still, he serves the Dark.
Please let me know if you write anything at all about the Wales Readathon – but I’m especially keen to highlight your reviews and features. To do this, simply leave a link to your piece in the comments section below or drop me a line, and should you post anything relating to the event on Twitter, I would appreciate you using the hashtag #dewithon20.
Thank you and good luck (diolch a phob lwc)!
- PRICHARD, CARADOG (1904-1980), novelist and poet – Dictionary of Welsh Biography
- #GWN Revisited: Un Nos Ola Leuad by Caradog Prichard – Wales Arts Review