William Blake, map-maker

January 22, 2022 0 Comments
William Blake, map-maker

You can’t wander far in south and mid-Wales in the early years of the nineteenth century without coming across the name of Benjamin Heath Malkin.  The second edition of his book The scenery, antiquities and biography of south Wales, published in two volumes in 1807, was described by the historian R.T. Jenkins as ‘by far […]

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Beyond shame and guilt

January 14, 2022 3 Comments
Beyond shame and guilt

When I was a young student and easily impressed by big theory, I was struck by a book by E.R. Dodds called The Greeks and the irrational.  Its origin was a series of lectures Dodd gave in California in 1949.  Or, going further back, a conversation he’d had, while studying the Parthenon sculptures in the […]

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Cymraeg ar y mynydd

January 8, 2022 1 Comment
Cymraeg ar y mynydd

Enillydd cyntaf Gwobr Ysgrif O’r Pedwar Gwynt yw Rebecca Thomas, cymrawd ôl-ddoethurol yr Academi Brydeinig ym Mhrifysgol Bangor. Ei maes academaidd yw hanes Cymru yn yr oesoedd canol cynnar, a chawn beth o’i gwybodaeth drwyadl o’r pwnc yn ei hysgrif fuddugol, sy’n dwyn y teitl ‘Cribo’r Dragon’s Back’.  Er yn fyr, mae’r darn hwn yn […]

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Some books I read in 2021

December 31, 2021 2 Comments
Some books I read in 2021

2021 was another big reading year, thanks to continuing Covid.  Some books, especially fiction, arrived thanks to our resuscitated book club – almost all were titles I’d not have thought of taking off the shelf myself, so they were doubly welcome.  But here are some 2021 books read out of personal necessity, curiosity or whim. […]

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Melesina Bowen’s ‘Ystradffin’

December 24, 2021 2 Comments
Melesina Bowen’s ‘Ystradffin’

In recent years many Welsh women poets of the past have been rescued from the condescension of posterity, not least in the anthology edited by Katie Gramich and Catherine Brennan.  But one of them has so far escaped much attention.  In 1839 Melesina Bowen published an unusual topographical poem in English called Ystradffin.  It deserves […]

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Late style: Edgar Degas looks at a flax field

December 17, 2021 3 Comments
Late style: Edgar Degas looks at a flax field

In 1892 Edgar Degas was around 58 years old.  Not old, certainly by our standards, and he had twenty years and more left to live.  But the landscapes he painted in the 1890s tend to get called ‘late paintings’, with good reason.  Degas was a Parisian, an urban painter, and the works of his youth […]

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Albania: from Stalin’s knees to pyramid schemes

December 11, 2021 0 Comments
Albania: from Stalin’s knees to pyramid schemes

Lea Ypi’s Free: coming of age at the end of history, published in 2021, is a very unusual book.  It’s at once a rite-of-passage memoir – Lea is around eight or nine years old at the start and is about to leave school for university at the end – and a child’s view of one […]

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What are museums for?

December 4, 2021 3 Comments
What are museums for?

The 2021 Richard Burton Lecture in Swansea University was given this week by David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru (‘Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’, to give it its hyper-awkward formal name).  His title was ‘Do Welsh museums matter?’  It was a learned and a challenging talk, raising crucial questions about the role of […]

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The alienist

November 26, 2021 0 Comments
The alienist

Last week I was felled by a mysterious (non-Covid) illness.  The doctor’s best guess was that it was caused by ‘Virus X’, a hard-to-pin-down invader that was powerful enough to wreak temporary havoc with my body.  (My father-in-law, who was also a GP, would have written on my notes the letters ‘SKV’, short for ‘Some […]

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Brwydr hir Rachel Barrett

November 19, 2021 1 Comment
Brwydr hir Rachel Barrett

Mae’n ddigon hysbys mai mudiad dosbarth canol, ar y cyfan, oedd y mudiad i ennill y bleidlais i ferched yn y DU yn ystod y blynyddoedd cyn y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf.  Cryfder oedd hyn i’r graddau fod gan yr ymgyrchwyr y sgiliau a’r hyder i ymgyrchu, a mynediad i rwydweithiau cymdeithasol dylanwadol.  Ond golygodd absenoldeb […]

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