In The Shadow of the Pulpit
Following a personal introduction reflecting on the significance of chapel culture to Welsh life, this study proceeds to offer a simple explanation for the general, secular reader of the origins and meaning of Welsh Nonconformity. In the main body of the work, attention is first drawn to the gradual emergence in Wales from the later eighteenth century onwards of a wealth of English creative writing about this dominant Nonconformist culture, culminating in the appearance of a hitherto unexplored body of substantial Anglophone work at the end of the nineteenth century. Then, turning to the twentieth century, the study first demonstrates the various textual strategies a powerful new generation of ‘Anglo-Welsh’ writers employed to attack and undermine this hegemonic religious culture and then examines the work of four authors (Glyn Jones, Dylan Thomas, Emyr Humphreys and Roland Mathias) in detail to demonstrate the depth and variety of the literary response over this last century to the world of the Welsh chapels. Particularly valuable features of this study are a) its demonstration of the formative influence of Welsh Nonconformity on Welsh Writing in English; b) its examination of a whole body of writing about chapel life that has hitherto been unexplored; c) its argument that central to ‘Anglo-Welsh’ literature for much of the past century has been the struggle between preacher and writer for the soul of Welsh culture; and c) its suggestion that the work of Dylan Thomas might profitably be re-read in the light of his remarkable Welsh Unitarian ancestry.
All ex GB, US, CA