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This report is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
We are becoming accustomed to assertions in public life that are less than the whole truth and all too often downright lies. In literature we meet, increasingly it seems, narrative fiction based on skeletal fact, as well as work planned and presented to deceive, like Macpherson’s Ossian, Chatterton’s Rowley poems and Iolo Morganwg’s masterly imitations of Dafydd ap Gwilym, as previously mentioned (PNR 249). While searching for a reference I knew to be found in Rhys Davies’s Print of a Hare’s Foot, I was so charmed, once again, by the stories and their telling that I re-read the whole book. It comes into the category of unreliable memoirs, its primary function to entertain rather than factually inform. Davies termed it ‘An Autobiographical Beginning’, raising expectations of a forthcoming middle and (near) end. But there was no more, for he was nearing the end of a productive and successful writing career, and what we have is filled out with pieces previously published in Geoffrey Grigson’s miscellany The Mint and Connolly’s Horizon.

The book begins with a Proustian moment, not a madeleine dipped in tea, but the finger touch of a ‘a roll of vividly striped flannel’ of the ‘old hairy breed’ on a stall at Carmarthen market. It brings back the horror of Sunday’s fresh-laundered flannel shirt following the weekly bath, the essential preliminary to morning service at Gosen, the tiny Congregational chapel not far from his parents’ grocery shop: ‘Seated alone in my mother’s rented pew… I scarcely dared move within my hairshirt. To rise for hymn-singing renewed the hot itching ...


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