‘Not going back, but ... exile ending’: Raymond Williams’s Fictional Wales

  • James A. Davies


That Raymond Williams, generally so prolific, only published five novels during his lifetime once marginalised his fiction. But we now listen to what Williams was eager to tell us, that the published work is only a small part of his fictional output. In 1978, when three novels had appeared, he stressed that he had ‘given relatively far more time, in comparison with what became visible and valued, to fiction than to any other form of writing’. Williams, then, had written three unpublished novels, seven versions of Border Country and five of The Fight for Manod because ‘all along there have been certain things pressing on me, which I could simply find no alternative way of writing’.1 The novels, that is, are not simply fictionalised accounts of Williams’s central theories, whether of ‘culture’ or ‘the knowable community’, but make statements of a different kind and in a different way. Stephen Knight makes the point succinctly:

the novels are not something of a hobbyish aside ... nor do they merely offer an occasional gloss on the state of argument in his analytic oeuvre.... They are, rather, a modally different, internally consistent and — most crucially — a humanly realised version of the interpretative life’s work of Raymond Williams.2


Thin Cloud Border Country Dialectical Structure Black Mountain Personal Substance 
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  1. 1.
    Raymond Williams, Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left Review (London: Verso, 1979) p. 271.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Stephen Knight, ‘Personal Substance: The Novels of Raymond Williams’, in New Welsh Review, 1, no. 2 (Autumn 1988) p. 28.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    D. J. Williams, The Old Farmhouse, translated by Waldo Williams (London: Harrop, 1961; reprinted Carmarthen: Golden Grove, 1987) p. 57.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    For a useful discussion of the ‘Welsh Mam’, see, Deirdre Beddoe, ‘Images of Welsh Women’, in Wales: The Imagined Nation, edited by Tony Curtis (Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press, 1986) pp. 227–38.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    J. P. Ward, Raymond Williams (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1981) P. 44.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    Matthew Arnold, ‘On Translating Homer’, in On the Classical Tradition, edited by R. H. Super (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960) p. 140.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Davies

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