Rachel Trezise reviews All Things Betray Thee by Gwyn Thomas for Planet 206
All Things Betray Thee
Parthian, Library of Wales, £8.99
An extract of the review follows:
"Gwyn Thomas' All Things Betray Thee was a historical novel when it was first published in 1949 as an emblematic account of the 1831 Methyr Rising that occurred a hundred odd years earlier. Now, republished as part of the Library of Wales series, it is even older, but not a shred less significant. [...]"
"Raymond Williams stated in his foreword that the novel is a connection to the past and the future, though primarily the present, 'that endlessly repeated present in which the issues and choices are personally active. The immediate location is 1835 but the connection is beyond it to: 1986 if we can hear it.' Or the rioting in cities across England in the summer of last year. Or the public sector strikes called in November. Or perhaps the Occupy protest that is ongoing throughout the world. This novel, more than Thomas's others, transmutes the mean, urban streets of industrial villages back into a world where there is a rural peace along valley floors and among mountain tops -- imagining the valleys at the very birth of industrialisation [...] Finally, after almost two centuries of slagheaps and 'Rhondda Grey', the death of industry is upon us, and the mountains are grassy again. Physically, we are almost back to the start. But the economic wasteland that is left and the linguistic schizophrenia caused by anglicisation will continue to be a festering wound. All Things Betray Thee ensures we'll always remember when and how these wounds were first opened."
Rachel Tresize is the author of In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl and Fresh Apples, both available from the online Parthian bookshop. Her second collection of short stories will be out through Parthian in 2013.
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