A Guide to Welsh Literature: 1800-1900
Distributed for University of Wales Press
This is the fifth in a series of volumes outlining the history and development of Welsh literature from its beginnings in the sixth century to the present day.
Nineteenth-century Welsh literature is long overdue for reassessment. In its day, it suffered from exaggerated praise which sought to compensate for writers who had failed to make an impact on a neurotic culture. In the twentieth century, it suffered as much from a parroting of John Morris-Jones’s disdain for its linguistic infelicities and threadbare didacticism.
The ten essays in this volume, the first of which describes the remarkable growth of the Welsh press, provide an overview of the literary scene. Four chapters deal with the kind of poetry written and the obstacles confronting the poets; the emergence of the novel and drama is pursued in two chapters; there is a chapter on Emrys ap Iwan, the most arresting cultural commentator of his day; and another on the early travel books of O.M. Edwards whose influence on the twentieth-century literary revival was seminal. A final chapter shows that in the closing quarter of the century there were critics of a more liberal cast than Morris-Jones who were intent on bringing Welsh literature into contact with the surge of creativity revolutionizing European culture.
This book, much of which is based on recent research, shows clearly that there is much more to nineteenth-century Welsh literature than has been revealed by the dismissive view of it. By considering it within a liberating socio-cultural context, its significance is reappraised, thus continuing the recent reclamation of the literature of this period.
“ . . . a series that's building up into one of the most important surveys of literature in the Welsh language now available . . .” –Western Mail
“Hywel Teifi Edwards is to be congratulated for bringing together a collection of essays which illuminate an often maligned and misunderstood period in Welsh literature.” –PQR
“This fifth volume of a splendid series outlining the history and development of Welsh literature from its beginnings in the sixth century to the present is as attractive, informative and engrossing as its predecessors. Its authority is enhanced by the stature of its editor, Hywel Teifi Edwards, Research Professor in Welsh at University of Wales Swansea, and a leading commentator on nineteenth-century Welsh literature and culture . . . This is essentially a work of scholarly revision and reassessment, highlighting the roles of press and eisteddfod, the emergence of the novel and drama, and the growth of literary criticism of liberal spirit and awareness of dynamic European cultural creativity: Modern research and consideration within a liberating socio-cultural context, reveal nineteenth-century Welsh literature to be of greater interest and significance than hitherto believed. This is a worthy addition to an excellent series of volumes which libraries at all levels should stock.” –Reference Reviews