Saturday, 19 May 2007

Rhaid I Bopeth Newid - Everything Must Change: New Vision of a post-National Wales?

Everything Must Change is Grahame Davies's new novel -- launched last night at the Gate in Roath, Cardiff.

A stellar crowd was present at a cozy book launch at the Gate in Roath, Cardiff, last night. The new novel in English first released in Welsh last year, but has been translated and a lot of folks are saying that this is 'going to be an important novel'.
Some recent comments:

"Philosophically weighty… it reminds me of Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1940s trilogy, The Paths of Liberty. Here… is set out the Welsh post-nationalistic choice. This is the first post-national novel." Lord DAFYDD ELIS-THOMAS

"… a compelling glimpse of a compelling personality [Simone Weil]. The book is pertinent, provocative and entertaining – rich nourishment for anybody interested in the way culture and identity inform the lives we make." OWEN MARTELL

This poignant first novel is about social conscience and radical activism in the modern world. It intercuts the story of twentieth century French philosopher and radical activist, Simone Weil, with a fictional twenty-first century Welsh language campaigner, Meinwen Jones.

The self-denying, ascetic lives of both women are portrayed with gentle clarity, and the novel travels between the humanising of dissent and the cold politics of acute social conscience.

With Simone, Davies probes the experiences and philosophies beneath the cult radical and intellectual exterior which lead to her often shockingly self-destructive actions.

Set against the tramping feet of fascism and communism in inter-war Europe, he shows us the little girl refusing sugar out of solidarity with first world war soldiers, the physically fragile woman enlisting for the Spanish civil war and eventually more or less starving herself to death in wartime London.

Against this historical narrative is the actions of Meinwen and her contemporaries, through whom Davies examines the fate of radical conscience in post-devolution Wales. There are hard questions not just for the enemies of the Welsh language, but for its friends, for politicians and campaigners.

The often uncomfortable political realities for a culture fighting for the survival of a Welsh identity are depicted from the inside and the harsh choices facing its long-time defenders explored unflinchingly. In a prison cell, Meinwen finds herself on the verge of following Simone's passionate asceticism to its logical conclusion.

This is a translation of "Rhaid i Bopeth Newydd", which was longlisted for the Welsh Book of the Year in 2004.

Order your copy at

Grahame Davies: Poet, editor and literary critic.

All about Simone Weil.

Buy Everything Must Change from Seren Books

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© 2007 Mark Leslie Woods

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