PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Alberto Manguel Selbstgefühl New poems by Fleur Adcock, Claudine Toutoungi and Tuesday Shannon James Campbell A Walk through the Times Literary Supplement
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This article is taken from PN Review 263, Volume 48 Number 3, January - February 2022.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

M. Wynn Thomas, Eutopia: studies in Cultural Euro-Welshness, 1850-1980; and The History of Wales in Twelve Poems (both University of Wales Press, 2021), £24.99 and £8.99


Wynn Thomas has long since consolidated his position as the foremost interpreter of Welsh writing in English. He is principled, keenly perceptive and precise in judgement, and his writing is as elegant as it is clear, while pulling no punches. He is equally at home discussing the literature and history of Wales in the Welsh language, bringing to this field, too, the same rare qualities of wide knowledge, clarity and discrimination. These, his most recent books, are different in scope and intention from the twenty or so volumes that preceded them. They go far beyond ‘lit. crit.’ and confirm his standing among the foremost cultural historians of Wales.

Eutopia is a survey with parameters both chronological and geographical. It proposes that, compared to the reach and depth of the (lately American accented) anglophone penetration of much of the world by military and mercantile predation, Welsh connections with Europe, though they go back to the ‘Age of the Saints’, the Mabinogion and the poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym, only multiply about the middle of the nineteenth century, and even since then ‘cannot but seem piddling, provincial and hopelessly naive’. Thomas’s assessment is, as ever, clear-sighted. Nevertheless, he insists, they have ‘compelling power and continuing relevance’, manifested not in politics, economics or mass movements (least of all tourist travel), ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image