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Gwyn Thomas and the emergence of an Anglo- Welsh literary tradition Wilson, Jeanne Mary

Abstract

Gwyn Thomas, a Welshman from the Rhondda Valley in industrial South Wales, is a contemporary writer whose contribution to Anglo-Welsh literature bridges the divergence between cultures. The emergence of Anglo-Welsh writers is relatively recent; and although these writers have no imposed homogeneity, no shared defined purpose, they have in common a generic quality that is recognizably that of the Welshman writing in English. Collectively, the Anglo-Welsh demonstrate their fundamental and real experience of the alienating effects of industrialism and anglicisation. The industrial wasteland and linguistic schizophrenia are the shameful and inconsolable central wound in South Wales. Gwyn Thomas demonstrates the effects of industrialism in Merthyr and the Rhondda Valley. In his novel, All Things Betray Thee, he recognizes the destructive and alienating effects of technological progress. In this and other works, he speaks for the victims of economic depression, but transmutes the mean streets of industrial villages into a world where there is a rural and green peace within echoing distance of the mountainous tips, a world where an articulate, lyrical, Puckish people, who were indigenous to Wales long before the expansion of Elizabethan England, are the counterpart to their rural country-men. Gwyn Thomas exemplifies the invincible spirit of the people among whom he was born and grew to manhood and with whom he shares lineage ties with all Welshmen, whichever tongue they speak. In harmony with the precept that laughter ameliorates suffering, the humour of Thomas's characters annihilates their degradation. His jester's wit entertains and evokes laughter which, by virtue of its contrast with his compassion and serious comment, gives insight into the pity and the shame of a people's rejection and a land unmade. His alliterative, euphonious language, his vivid imagery and metaphor, his wit, perception and lyricism, derive from the people of Wales. He is a poet of the industrial valleys, and his voice is true to Wales. His is the generation of Anglo-Welsh writers who have established a new literary tradition.

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