Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Romance of Wales

The conference I'm at (Wales and Revolution) has been hugely interesting partly because it's not all about the industrial 20th-century work I'm familiar with: we've had medieval literature, Romantic revivals of Welsh medievalism, and lots of work on the French Revolution and Welsh experiences/understandings of it - from popular novels to letters and diaries.

It's so idyllic. My main problem right now is that the birds are drowning out the Bach Cello Suite (my favourite music of all) being played beautifully by someone a floor below. I got99 problems and the Bach is one…

Unfortunately, it's proving to be a hugely expensive weekend too: there are an academic bookseller and a rare books dealer here, and I've succumbed in a big way: £160 and counting. It could have been worse: I picked up a big stack of beautiful illustrated retellings of various myths from 1914, misreading the price as £22.50. It turned out to be £225, so I bought just one of them, a prose translation of Dafydd ap Gwilym's poetry by Evelyn Lewes, printed by the very sought-after David Nutt, for £25. Just for the cover design and typography it's worth the price, though I now have an aching desire for the rest of the set.

Not sure it really shows up, but the rider's coat is a deep metallic gold colour.

It's been a good day for picking up interesting book designs. Here are two classics: I Am A Miner (1939) by Bert Coombes (from Wolverhampton, claimed to be from Herefordshire, became a South Wales miner and author), which seems to be a socialist periodical called  Fact and Gwyn Thomas's first publication, Where Did I Put My Pity?, from 1946. I'll post photos of those when the Blogger server starts to behave itself…

I also picked up Walford Davies and Lynda Pratt's (eds) Wales and the Romantic Imagination, which looks excellent (Pratt once taught me), Mapping the Territory: Critical Approaches to Welsh Writing in English ed. by Katie Gramich, Linden Peach's The Fiction of Emyr Humphreys (scandalously under-rated author), Sarah Prescott's Eighteenth-Century Writing from Wales, Aaron, Altink and Weedon's collection Gendering Border Studies, a translation of John Gwilym Jones's The Plum Tree, Gramich's new biography of Kate Roberts (who I think is one of the best writers of the 20th century), Glyn Jones's Gwyn Jones Lecture pamphlet Random Entrances to Gwyn Thomas (none of them related), Garlick's historic An Introduction to Anglo-Welsh Literature (I only had a photocopy before), an original 1939 edition of Saunders Lewis's provocative lecture Is There An Anglo-Welsh Literature?

Now I'm off to a keynote lecture by H. Gustav Klaus, another of my academic heroes. I've earned this!

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