Groundbreaking Short Stories

Hallowe’en in the Cwm by Owen Wynne Jones

Translated with an introduction by Rob Mimpriss

Owen Wynne Jones, also known as Glasynys (1828-1870) was a school-teacher, and clergyman, an editor and poet, and an influential figure in the eisteddfod movement. But he was a also a folklorist and short-story writer, whose contributions to the Welsh anthology, Cymru Fu (1864), influenced T. Gwynn Jones among others, and now, in this new translation by Rob Mimpriss, a body of his work is available to English readers.

Combining horror, romance, humour and adventure with his own moving descriptions of the hospitality and generosity of ordinary people, these stories provide an account of a way of life now vanished, and a glimpse into the extraordinary richness of the Welsh oral tradition.

‘An invaluable translation.’

Angharad Price

Published as part of the Welsh Folklore series: fiction, translation and scholarship inspired by the rich folk heritage of Wales.

The Scarlet Flower by Vsevolod Garshin

Translated by E. L. Voynich and Rowland Smith

A young writer lies wounded, hungry and dying of thirst, by the body of the Turkish soldier he has killed. A volunteer and private on the long march to Bulgaria assaults the officer who thought of him as an equal and a friend. A prostitute scorns the marriage that could save her life, preferring death to shame, and a patient in a lunatic asylum begins a solitary battle against the flower which is the source of all evil and suffering in the world. Combining the social awareness of Orwell or Gorky with the artistry of Turgenev, these stories demonstrate the work of a writer uniquely attuned to the sufferings of his people and the imperatives of his art.

‘Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky… None of our great masters created, at Garshin’s age, anything better than his work, and none can stand as so true and painfully effective a representative of the spirit of our troubled time.’

S. Stepniak

Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams

Translated by Rob Mimpriss

Set in the North Wales slate quarries at the end of the nineteenth century, these stories represent a time of unparalleled cultural wealth and economic hardship. With a simplicity that belies their emotional impact, they depict the quarrymen united by humour and friendship against the oppression and upheaval of their time.

Richard Hughes Williams, also known as Dic Tryfan (1878-1919), was proclaimed as a Welsh Gorky in his day, but only now, in this edition by Rob Mimpriss, has a body of his work been translated. A liberal, a secularist and an internationalist, he yet depicts his compatriots with loyalty, with humour and with never-failing compassion.

‘The Welsh short story was not the same after Hughes Williams had made his mark on it. There was no way it could have have been. He showed a new path and a new style. He adopted a new attitude to life – the attitude of the observer, that to observe is more important than to judge, and that to record what exists is better than to describe what ought to be. He took his work seriously, and lived for its sake. If he is forgotten, as largely he has been, his influence on the literature of Wales will remain.’

E. Morgan Humphreys

His Happiness by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

The peasant son of a village peasant sets his heart on marrying the daughter of a local land-owner. A young lad aspires to scale the crags above his valley to the place where the eagles nest, and four short encounters between a father and the parish priest sketch the story of a young man’s life.

With a timeless simplicity that recalls the work of Margiad Evans or Caradoc Evans, and with a love of the Norwegian land and people, these three stories represent the work of one of the forgotten masters of European literature.

Published as part of the Global Wales series: celebrating the literature of Wales and the world.

The White Farm and Other Stories by Geraint Goodwin

A farmer’s orphan attends the auction of her stock with the man she intends to marry and the man she loves. A retired boxer who once killed a man is challenged to fight by the local drunk. Two men and a woman stand facing each other on the wasteground behind a country fair, and a successful businessman journeys home to be reconciled with the woman he once raped.

In his eye for the unremarked drama of Welsh lives, Geraint Goodwin is the equal of Caradoc Evans or Margiad Evans, yet his feel for atmosphere and detail is reminiscent of Turgenev. In the borderlands between England and Wales, men and women reach out to each other, groping for unity whilst riven by the gap between convention and passion.

My Neighbours by Caradoc Evans

‘Our God is a big man: a tall man much higher than the highest chapel in Wales and broader than the broadest chapel. For the promised day that He comes to deliver us a sermon we shall have made a hole in the roof and taken down a wall. Our God has a long, white beard, and he is not unlike the Father Christmas of picture-books. Often he lies on his stomach on Heaven’s floor, an eye at one of his myriads of peepholes, watching that we keep his laws. Our God wears a frock coat, a starched linen collar and black necktie, and a silk hat, and on the Sabbath he preaches to the congregation of Heaven.’

Set in west Wales and among the Welsh of London, and written in the Biblical cadence which had made its author famous, Caradoc Evans’s third collection castigates the ignorance, greed and hypocrisy of his people.

Capel Sion by Caradoc Evans

A young man whose heart is filled with the glory of Sion conceals the mouth of the well and calls the servant he has got with child. The son of Enoch, the Teller of Things, dies in Morfa, and Enoch takes his body by force to have it buried in Capel Sion. The doltish virgin, Silah Penlon, denounces Amos, chief of the praying men, and Pedr comes down from the moor to warn the people that the Big One will loosen the sea of Morfa because wickedness is in the grounds of Capel Sion.

Timeless in its milieu, yet striking in its modernity, Caradoc Evans’s second short-story collection pits the cunning and greed of Welsh farmers and ministers in the Edwardian era against the stony pastures and barren moors of Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire.

My People by Caradoc Evans

A respected member of the chapel, Zion, pronounces his wife mad and confines her to the hayloft. A man rides to the April fair to buy a heifer without blemish and acquire a wife. And God appears in a dream to a lonely farmhand, and tells him to dig for a talent under Old Shaci’s ruined hut.

These short stories depict the poverty and hardship endured by the peasants of west Wales in the Nineteenth Century. But they also reveal the meanness and cruelty of lives lived in ignorance, caught between the desire for love and the fear of violence, and oppressed by the dark power of the chapel minister and the idol he represents. First published in 1915, to great outrage and great acclaim, they retain their timeless quality as classics and their power to shock.

The Untilled Field by George Moore

A farmer whose son is set on emigration to America visits a convent to persuade a young novice to forsake her vows. A priest who has abruptly postponed a wedding sets off in pursuit of the couple to save them from mortal sin. A humble priest sets out to make his parish the Oberammergau of the West, and a woman who has spent her life’s savings on a stained-glass window for a crumbling church comes to be revered as a local saint.

Written in part as a model for writers in Irish, and in part in condemnation of the oppressive power of the Catholic church, this seminal short-story collection portrays the thinkers, expatriates, peasants, and priests of a stateless nation in the final years before its liberation.

Published as part of the Global Wales series: celebrating the literature of Wales and the world.