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> Welsh Literature, Books, poetry, etc. from Wales
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Elspeth 
Posted: 22-Dec-2003, 07:41 PM
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I recently read the novel The Children of First Man by James Alexander Thom.

The premise of the story is a fictional account of the legend that Madog Owain Gwynedd sailed from Wales in the twelfth century and discovered the coast of America. He returned to Wales and came back with several ships and the intent to colonize the new land. The descendents of this colony intermarried with the natives, forming the Mandan Indians. The novel then continues, following the Mandans through the centuries.

If you are interested in a long, thoroughly researched historical novel you may want to give this a read.

It is interesting to speculate on the validity of the legend. To think Europeans had settled here 300 years before Columbus.


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Elspeth 
Posted: 22-Dec-2003, 07:59 PM
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And, as a point of interest, this was written by Richard Bercot's father-in-law.
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Elspeth 
Posted: 23-Dec-2003, 06:49 AM
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The legend of Prince Madoc


Many of our American visitors will be familiar with the story of Madoc, a prince of Wales who, in the twelfth century, is supposed to have discovered America. The story first appears in A True Reporte, written by Sir George Peckham in 1583. This document supported the first Queen Elizabeth's claim to the New World. It was repeated in Humphrey Llwyd's Historie of Cambria the next year. In 1810, John Sevier, one of the founders of Tennessee wrote about a belief among the Cherokee Indians that there had been a Welsh-speaking Indian tribe. Their chieftain was supposed to have told Sevier that he had heard his father and grandfather speak of a people called the Welsh, and that they had crossed the seas and landed at Mobile in Alabama.

Welsh scholars have been long been sceptical, especially since the Madoc story was promoted in the 19th century by the bard Iolo Morganwg, someone not renowned for his devotion to accuracy in the sphere of history. For many Welshmen, however, the story has long had a certain resonance and Professor Hartmann tells us that "On January 13th 1804, an American President of Welsh ancestry, Thomas Jefferson, despatched a letter to another Welsh-American, Meriwether Lewis, containing a map of the Upper Missouri valley. The map had been prepared by a third Welsh-American, John Evans."

John Evans left his home in rural North Wales in 1792. He travelled to London and then across to remote parts of the USA in search of Madoc?s Welsh Indians. Fuelled by the revival of ?Madoc fever? and the strong support of his London-Welsh contemporaries, the young weaver set out to rediscover the "Welsh Indians". He appears to have worked for a Spanish company in America and became a surveyor. Despite his best efforts, Welsh speaking Native Americans were not found but the legend lives on.

http://www.data-wales.co.uk/madoc.htm


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susieq76 
Posted: 05-Jan-2005, 04:25 PM
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Here is a story I found on the BBC UK site regarding a book called Mabinogion. It seemed really interesting, and I was wondering if anyone else had heard of this, and if you had any other books by Welsh authors or about Wales that you would like to recommend.

Mabinogion

The Mabinogion - background

A masterpiece of medieval literature, The Mabinogion is regarded by many as Wales's greatest contribution to European literature.


It has been widely influential too, giving rise to timeless literary figures such as Arthur and Merlin, and providing the basis of much European and world literature - the fantasy fiction genre, so popular today, was practically unknown before its publication.
It first came to general literary prominence in the mid 19th century, when Lady Charlotte Guest published her translation of 11 medieval Welsh folk tales under the title The Mabinogion. The tales, which are outwardly concerned with the lives of various Welsh royal families - figures who represent the gods of an older, pre-Christian mythological order - are themselves much older in origin.

Preserved in written form in the White Book of Rhydderch (1300-1325) and the Red Book of Hergest (1375-1425), portions of the stories were written as early as the second half of the 11th century, and some stories are much older still. It's from this older, oral tradition of story telling that many of the fantastic and supernatural elements of the tales have come.

Ironically the title, The Mabinogion, is a relatively modern one, coined mistakenly by Lady Charlotte Guest herself. The word 'mabinogion', which she assumed was the plural form of 'mabinogi', appears only once in the manuscripts she translated and is commonly dismissed as a transcription error. 'Mabinogi', derived from the word 'mab', originally meant 'boyhood' or 'youth' but gradually came to mean 'tale of a hero's boyhood' and eventually, simply, 'a tale'.

It's these first four heroic 'tales', or the four 'branches' of Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan, and Math, which make up The Mabinogi(on) proper. A single character, Pryderi links all four branches. In the first tale he's born and fostered, inherits a kingdom and marries; in the second he's scarcely mentioned; in the third he's imprisoned by enchantment and then released; and in the fourth he falls in battle.

The tales themselves are concerned with the themes of fall and redemption, loyalty, marriage, love, fidelity, the wronged wife, and incest. They're set in a bizarre and magical landscape which corresponds geographically to the western coast of south and north Wales. They're full of white horses that appear magically, giants, beautiful, intelligent women and heroic men.

The title, The Mabinogion, is also used today to describe the other seven stories in Lady Charlotte Guest's collection: The Dream of Maxim Wledig, which is based on the legend of Emperor Maximus; Llud and Llefelys, a tale full of fairy tale elements; Culhwch and Olwen the earliest known Arthurian romance in Welsh; The Dream of Rhonabwy, a witty meditation on ancient Britain's heroic tradition; and three further Arthurian romances, The Lady of the Fountain, Peredur and Gerient Son of Erbin. A twelfth story, Taliesin, translated from a later manuscript is included in some collections.

Re-told by Philip Palmer

It got a lot more descriptive about individual stories within this book, but I felt it best to just put this in.



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Welsh Guy 
Posted: 05-Jan-2005, 05:19 PM
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I have my 1948 edition with me now, it was a gift from Lloyd George's brother William George, on the Centenary of Loyd George's birth 17th January 1968. It inspired me later in life when I became the script editor on a Russian animation of the story of Culwch & Olwen, produced by Soyuzmulifilm Studios Moscow, and was screened at the Cannes film festival in 1988.

The Mabinogion was the staple diet of of young Welsh children, the stories being as familiar as Grimms fairy tales to us.


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Aaediwen 
Posted: 05-Jan-2005, 09:05 PM
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I've been looking to buy a copy for some time, If I could ever find it. I first encountered it at www.sacred-texts.com.


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Welsh Guy 
Posted: 06-Jan-2005, 03:07 AM
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It's on Amazon rolleyes.gif
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susieq76 
Posted: 31-Jan-2005, 04:13 PM
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Okay, so I have bought Mabinogion, and several other books that look fabulous. One I am reading right now is by Rhys Bowen and is a mystery series. The first book is called "Evans Above". They are great - you guys ought to check them out! Another one I got is called "Here Be Dragons" and is part of a three book series by Sharon Kay Penman. Those looked really good. They are about the Arthur tales.

Does anyone have any books set in Wales or by Welsh authors to recommend?
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gwenynen 
Posted: 28-Mar-2005, 09:38 AM
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"A String in the Harp" by Nancy Bond was interesting. It's about a family who moved to Wales involving the story of Taliesin. I usually don't read fantacy stories but this book was good. I found a copy at the local library.

My favorite Welsh author is Kate Roberts. "Tea in the Heather" is about a little girl in Northern Wales a century ago. It's short and easy to read. Her longer novel, "Feet in Chains" is great as well. The background in the both novels is the same: coal/slate mines, poor/hard working families. Both of them were made into films in Welsh by s4c.

Dylan Thomas is by far the most famous, but I don't care for his books except "A Child's Christmas in Wales." This is good. I watched the film too.



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susieq76 
Posted: 28-Mar-2005, 10:12 AM
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*runs towards library greedily*

Thanks so much! I will be checking those out. Rhys Bowen has been very good - I have read three in her series. And Sharon Kay Bowman is okay. A bit redundant, if you ask me....all of her books seem to be about Prince John and Richard the Lionhearted and all the Welsh battles. But hey...I haven't read them all, so I don't know for sure.
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Siarls 
Posted: 22-Apr-2005, 12:17 PM
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Welsh Poetry is great too. You should look at some of Aneirin and Taliesin's work. It is the original Lord of the Rings - forget Tolkien. I feel part of something very special when I read Taliesin, in particular.

Another good way to pick up Welsh is Kate Roberts' short stories, perhaps Ffair Gaeaf. Be warned - it's mostly Northern Welsh!!!!!! Which is actually arguably closer to Standard Welsh than the relaxed slang we spew in the South!!!!!

Oh, and don't forget Gwyn Thomas' poetry. Perhaps Wmgawa. His poetry is very accessible. Little grammar at all. He doesn't use verbs much, so you don't get lost in unnecessary drivel.


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susieq76 
Posted: 22-Apr-2005, 03:38 PM
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That is great! I am off to the library today, and will see if they have those. Thanks! I have read "Taliesin" by Stephen Lawhead, but it is probably not the same....
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gwenynen 
Posted: 27-Apr-2005, 10:25 AM
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What do you say about Dylan Thomas, Siarls? I won't give my opining till I know yours.
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Siarls 
Posted: 27-Apr-2005, 01:17 PM
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Well, I'm afraid I don't like Dylan Thomas. Swansea County Council have quotes from his poetry on everything - vans, posters, letters. But, even though Swansea is eager to claim him as our own - it's only because he's so famous. Otherwise, most Swansea people dislike him. We know him for the Welsh-hating, alcoholic wife beater that he was.
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gwenynen 
Posted: 27-Apr-2005, 08:53 PM
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I'm relieved to hear that as I don't like his works except "A Child's Christmas in Wales." But I didn't want to say anything negative about him to someone from Swansea.
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