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Dear List,

I have been reading a mass of new kinds of material in order to write on David Jones. It started with Roman History and moved to ancient Welsh texts as well as Mallory. Fortunately for me, although Jones always identified with his Welsh side (English Mother but Welsh father), he did not read Welsh. (He may have learned some but read all those texts except Mallory in translation also), and I can still read 15th C English easily.

My point is that for Jones, one had to understand "Britain" as, in the words of Hopkins: dappled, brindled, spotted. The Welsh tradition is not at all just what Eliot draws on and not the same as England's. So it then occurred to me that Scotland's would be even more distinct because Scotland, unlike both England and Wales, did not have a significant Roman occupation and therefor a long tradition of the same Romance sources. There were Roman military outposts (if you go to Edinburgh or live in Scotland, the Roman section in the National Gallery is fascinating, and the Cramond Lion is amazing), but very few if any settlements, and the Romans did not stay long at all. They built Hadrian's wall to keep out the Celts.

So I think my long view is apt that when most Anglo-American critics talk about "British" or "Britain," they really mean "English" and "England." And "Tradition and the Individual Talent," then is really not generalizable. To read In Parenthesis--which is brilliant--is to find a long set of notes to Mallory, Taliessin, the Mabinogion, Y Gododdin, and many ancient Welsh tales. So my reading has been new and fascinating. 

I think we may need to start speaking of "Tradition(s) and Individual Talent(s)." And I know from David that Cumbria must share in a lot of that Northern "tradition." I'd be very interested in any ideas on this and on the complexity and plurality of "British" " tradition."

And if anyone who speaks Welsh is on the list, I have been going over the pronunciation, but I can't see how to pronounce "Y"
as in "pin" if it is a stand-alone term as in Y Gododdin or where the stress goes in Gododdin. I've managed the double d as "th" in "then."

The link to Eliot is obvious. He called In Parenthesis a "work of genius" and a new way of using language. But the whole background is very different. And his statements about Welsh writing in "Towards the Definition of Culture" would mean that the value is in its contribution to English literature. I think it matters as Welsh literature in itself, and by now, of course, English is one of the languages of Wales as it is of Scotland, which has three: Gaelic, Scots, and English.
Cheers,
Nancy