The Matter of Wales Epic Views of a Small Country PDF/EPUB


10 thoughts on “The Matter of Wales Epic Views of a Small Country

  1. Jason Jason says:

    Jan Morris is one of the preeminent historians of the British Empire and so it was with a little bemusement that I learned that she is actually half Welsh and in many ways seems attached to her Welsh ancestry than her English Her book The Matter of Wales is a sweeping history covering just about everything you could want to know about the country religion politics artistry geology animal husbandry you name it its in there I purchased the book some time agoFor I am Welsh you know as Shakespeare had Henry the Fifth proclaim after the Battle of Agincourt My grandfather emigrated from Wales as a young boy alone on an ocean liner after his parents passed My unending interest in Wales stems from my enduring affection for him Ironically he dived into the history of his adopted country with total zeal He loved to read about the American Civil War and the Old West It was on his lap that I developed my own love of history He used to read me the old Time Life books on World War II I found the photos endlessly fascinating But of course I was always fascinated by the history of Europe and the United Kingdom in particular Like most Americans I suppose I found the distinction between the different parts of the UK a little hazy Their dedication to separate nationalities always seemed a bit arcane and fussy on this side of the pond Slowly I developed an appreciation for the Celtic peoples and why they resist total assimilation by the Anglo Saxons to this day But ironically I had never gotten around to a full book on Wales and so here it is An imminently readable history that covers virtually everything Welsh The central gimmick of the book is that you are traveling through Wales with Owen Glendower the last truly Welsh Prince of Wales and my son's namesake So each chapter begins with some semi mystic dialog with the great Welsh hero and serves as sort of an introduction to the topic The book had an enormously important impact on my understanding of Welsh history Sadly my grandfather died before I was sufficiently knowledgeable to really delve into Welsh history with him But my grandmother also of Welsh extraction but born in Ohio passed along what she knew of Welsh history One bit that always stuck with me was that the Welsh were never conuered by the Romans There may be elements of truth in this statement It may be true that the Romans never fully pacified Wales has anyone? However that misses the point The Romans did settle into Wales so much so the legions intermarried and Roman culture flourished amongst the Welsh Some attribute the relatively swarthy coloring of the Welsh to the fact that Iberian Legionaries were dispatched to conuer the country and later settled in But the magnificent thing about Welsh in the Romans was not that they resisted but rather while the rest of Europe descended into the Dark Ages it was Wales that kept the fires of civilization ablaze Arthur of ye olde sword and the stone is the product of this hybrid Welsh Roman culture The Arthurian legends in fact reflect the light that Wales was shining in the Western world during very bleak times Interestingly this hearkening back to some golden age somewhat lost in the Celtic mists is apparently a very Welsh characteristic Whether it is Owen Glendower and his ill fated kingdom or Camelot or the Druids the Welsh have a romantic melancholy for a past long remembered Yet Morris also notes that this is not some sort of revanchement There is no greater Wales the Welsh have no desire to command all of the sceptered isle Rather the Welsh have largely sought to be left alone sovereign within their borders which have been understood for millennia Morris is a bit dogmatic about the relationship between the Welsh language and its people Clearly Welsh is a font of culture and that the language survives at all is a bit of a miracle However she seems to take rather a dim view of Welshmen who do not speak Welsh and for probably two hundred years that means a majority of the Welsh She seems to feel that to be disconnected from the Welsh language is to be disconnected from Welsh culture and ultimately to have been assimilated by the great beast to the East I think that may be a little unfair Heaven knows the English do not view the Welsh as an assimilated province Even with the vast use of English as the idiom of Wales the distinctions in the cultures politics religions and history persist between the two peoples Its probably fair to say that the Welsh have been the most collusive with the English on Britain's journey to greatness The Scots and Irish held to their notions of independence much longer But like many subject peoples the Welsh faced the prospect of accommodation or destruction I think they were wise to make the choices they did Nevertheless if you are looking for a good general history of Wales It would be hard to find something readable and complete I certainly enjoyed this jaunt around a small country If you have interest in the subject I suggest you check it out too


  2. Aled Owen-Thomas Aled Owen-Thomas says:

    If you’re Welsh live or have lived in Wales have a Welsh person in your life that you’d like to understand better or just have an interest in the country then you should read Jan Morris’ Wales originally published as The Matter of WalesIt’s so evocatively written that you feel as if you’re standing in a wet green field in some lonely cwm as you browse the pages It’s basically the best book I’ve read to explain us as a nation and a people and is informative that John Davies’ A History of Wales large parts of which I drifted off whilst reading


  3. Judith Johnson Judith Johnson says:

    Brilliant fascinating I've been going to Wales since I met my husband over 40 years ago and this book now has lots of notes in the back so that I can reference them and go and see some of the amazing things Jan Morris has written about Highly recommended


  4. M.J. Johnson M.J. Johnson says:

    A beautifully conceived and finely crafted book Morris uses language with consummate skill Her book kept me absorbed for several weeks Whether you have only a passing interest interest in Wales and Welsh life or simply love the place warts and all like I do this book makes delightful reading A great pleasure to read


  5. Carl Finch Carl Finch says:

    I enjoyed the book however not as much as many of the other generic Welsh history books I’ve read A big part was that I was not a huge fan of the writing style


  6. Jbondandrews Jbondandrews says:

    A very interesting and well written book Jan Morris blends well history religion and politics into her book


  7. Clay Strong Clay Strong says:

    Dense Nicely organized A bit of a slow read but interesting Fun to consult online as you go to see images or maps of the features people buildings and locations referenced


  8. Deborah Ideiosepius Deborah Ideiosepius says:

    As the subtitle says this is indeed an epic book with sweeping views of a small yet utterly fascinating country With absorbing passion Morris describes the landscapes history and people of Wales I found myself easily captivated by her passion as I have been fascinated by Wales for a long time This one book taught me about Wales and the Welsh than I had picked up in the last decade or so on my ownI did not find it a fast or easy book to read It has taken me months to get through and I think that stems from two things First that Morris has such passion for her topic herself that sometimes her book arrangements are passionate than well edited The first chapter is a case in point we start with the landscape of Wales which sounds stunning but is often compared to places in Europe or other places where whether I have been there or not I am not especially interested in reading about at present The passion as it were overcomes the need to present a linear landscape assessable to someone who is NOT already familiar with the countryThat is the second thing and I believe the reason a lot of the book is difficult to read it seems to be written for someone already very familiar with Wales and those of us who are not must struggle along best we can Morris explains she will name things in Welsh whenever possible and that is totally understandable and also sounds lovely but it is hard to read and it meant that for most of the chapter I had no idea where in Wales I was I had to keep referring back to the small map at the front of the book and even so was mostly lostNevertheless it was a very interesting book it has explained many things about the Welsh that I did not understand it presents the country delightfully and now even than before I am dying to go visit it I have a long list of places and things I really want to see though still for many of them I have no idea where in Wales they may be found It has also reignited my enthusiasm for learning the language and online lessons may mean that when time and finances finally allow me to visit Wales I may be able to say than just Boreda


  9. Edwinnaarden Edwinnaarden says:

    I was thinking 45 stars but I can't give thatI learned a lot about Wales Welsh history and Welsh peopleI think it also helped explain a lot about myself and my motherit also makes me proud to be of Welsh descent continue learning the Welsh language and working to preserve the Welsh culture The reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that it wasn't necessarily easy reading and it was a bit heavy nonetheless worth the read for me at least


  10. Lizzie Lizzie says:

    History culture natural history and animals music writing national character Morris covers it all in this evocation of Wales One of my grandmothers Helen Lambdin was of Welsh extraction and I've always been interested in that mystical kingdom Morris is also Welsh and passionate about Wales Very entertaining and interesting especially the chapter about being a tiny neighbor of England and how it's shaped the Welsh


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The Matter of Wales Epic Views of a Small Country This passionate evocation of Wales by the author Rebecca West has hailed as perhaps the best descriptive writer of our times encapsulates that country in all its aspects past present and even future Jan Morris shows clearly the manners of thought of the Welch people as well as their art their landscapes and their folklore their ways of earning a living their character their meaning and their historical destiny Half Welsh half English herself Morris is a historian a travel writer and an essayist All three disciplines she brings to this work a vivid tribute to a country not just on the map or in the mind but also in the heart All of us Morris writes have some small country there A dense poetic richly textured account of a land and a culture passionate and extravagant in both location and spirit almost hymnlike Washington Post Book World Ranks among her best booksthe writing sparkles The New York Times About the Author Jan Morris is the author of such books as the Pax Britannica trilogy Spain Destinations and most recently Journeys With this book Morris joins the immortals The splendors of the prose are like Homer's sea simply everywhere She is an absolute master of the sentence Christian Science Monitor

  • Paperback
  • The Matter of Wales Epic Views of a Small Country
  • Jan Morris
  • English
  • 10 May 2015
  • 9780195042214

About the Author: Jan Morris

Jan Morris is a British historian author and travel writer Morris was educated at Lancing College West Sussex and Christ Church Oxford but is Welsh by heritage and adoption Before 1970 Morris published under her assigned birth name James and is known particularly for the Pax Britannica trilogy a history of the British Empire and for portraits of cities notably Oxford Venice Triest