By Daniel G. Williams
Wales's prime literary critic, M. Wynn Thomas, is well known in those unique works and contributions from the world over acclaimed writers, poets, and critics. taking a look at the connection among English and Welsh language literature in Wales, those essays discover the interactions of nationhood and gender from the past due nineteenth century to the current day; the politics of translation in Wales in comparison to eire and the USA; and the exciting connections among Welsh literature and American, African American, Irish, and Jewish literary traditions.
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Here we glimpse the lyrical countryside of childhood, recaptured in such stories in The Old and the Young as ‘Solomon’ and in the title-story; Roberts’s memories of the quarrying villages of Caernarfonshire in which she sets her stories are clearly very different. In fact, the stories of both writers are haunted by a sense of change and process, and frequently centre on memory as the means by which the individual maintains his/her sense of a continued identity, however vulnerable, through time.
The scene takes on a clear metaphorical resonance, and the same emblematic quality is present in a scene to which Evans draws attention in her review. In ‘The Quilt’, the wife of a couple whose small shop has finally gone bankrupt sits huddled with a quilt clutched around her, clinging to the only thing in her life which is beautiful and colourful and transcends mere utilitarian value, while, in the words of Evans’s review, ‘ . . the removers rummage away her life . . The Removers! ’ Occasionally, in reading these stories, one is reminded of Thomas Hardy’s narratives of working communities in the grip of inexorable shifts of value, and of his bleak awareness of a universe without plan or order.
There is no denying the explosive impact of the stories in My People. It was, of course, all a matter of style. qxp 27/07/2004 15:32 Page 17 ‘Y Pentre Gwyn’ and ‘Manteg’ 17 upon were not suddenly exposed to view; the sins he harvested were by no means secret in Wales. Preachers had condemned them from pulpits throughout the land; denominational literature as much as the popular press frequently drew attention to the revelations of court cases. Daniel Owen in his novels had exposed the corrosive social effects of a status-serving religiosity in a far more insightful manner than that of My People.
Beyond the Difference by Daniel G. Williams