Breaking up the Traditional Skyline

  • Daniel Hughes


Across the work of eleven key authors—Caradoc Evans, Gwyn Thomas, Glyn Jones, Nigel Heseltine, Dylan Thomas, Lynette Roberts, David Jones, Dorothy Edwards, Margiad Evans, Brenda Chamberlain, and Tony Conran—this thesis analyses the output of an Anglophone cultural formation of modernist writers in Wales, whose literature comprise a major—yet neglected—strand of European modernism. The introductory chapter engages with the history of the idea of ‘Modernism’, and the current state of modernist studies within and beyond Wales, arguing that conventional notions of ‘Modernism’ as a fixed, monolithic period confined to the major metropolitan areas of Europe and America are no longer sufficient in light of recent developments in the field. The second chapter examines the controversial writer Caradoc Evans, once considered the ‘father’ of what was commonly called ‘Anglo-Welsh’ literature, whose incendiary 1915 short story collection My People serves as the explosive genesis of Anglophone Welsh modernism. I compare Evans’s work with a later author, Gwyn Thomas, whose 1946 novella Oscar depicts a nihilistic void under the guise of a bleak South Walian valley. Across the following two chapters, I explore the work of writers connected to a cultural formation of Anglophone Welsh modernist writers, utilising the term ‘formation’ as conceptualised by Raymond Williams in Culture (1981). This ‘formation’ occupied the cultural space cleared by Caradoc Evans, used Wales as their social and literary nexus (the magazine was edited by their mutual friend, Keidrych Rhys) and included in their number key writers examined in the thesis, such as Glyn Jones, Nigel Heseltine, Dylan Thomas, Lynette Roberts, and David Jones. In the fifth chapter, I analyse the ‘Gothic Wastelands’ of two recently recovered women writers, Margiad Evans and Dorothy Edwards, who were tangentially connected to the formation. In the sixth chapter, the thesis explores the modernist life-writing of Brenda Chamberlain and Tony Conran, as well as their position as the last members of this particular cultural formation. Finally, the thesis concludes by asking a question which becomes increasingly obvious in the face of the strength, vitality and diversity of Welsh modernism as demonstrated by this thesis: what brings us here so late?


Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
Sefydliad dyfarnu
Goruchwylydd / Goruchwylwyr / Cynghorydd
Dyddiad dyfarnuIon 2018

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