O’r Pedwar Gwynt 3/2019
In Welsh journal O’r Pedwar Gwynt: Iris Murdoch in Russia, the lessons of J.M. Coetzee, narcissism and politics, and stories from both sides of the Berlin Wall.
Introducing her interview with South African novelist J. M. Coetzee, O’r Pedwar Gwynt editor Sioned Puw Rowlands reflects on the relevance of Coetzee’s work in our post-puritanical times. She recalls how every novel seems to be an attempt by Coetzee to question himself morally as much as creatively. What about the urge of readers to get closer to writers themselves, often at the expense of their work? Is it a means of avoiding the very personal challenge, which can only happen through reading, of opening oneself to authentic artistic engagement?
On the centenary of the birth of Iris Murdoch, Ned Thomas remembers interviewing the philosopher and writer in 1967 for a Russian publication, which he edited at the time. O’r Pedwar Gwynt publishes the interview, translated from Russian into Welsh. In an accompanying essay, Thomas re-reads Murdoch’s novels in the light of her essays. Why does this philosophical novelist consider herself to be a realist? ‘The most incredible things happen but the human perception is so limited that we make platitudes of these experiences.’
Nothing ever dies
Eluned Gramich writes on the fall of multiple walls – the Berlin Wall 30 years ago but also ‘the wall in our minds’ – in her essay ‘Dividing the sky’. Born in 1989 to German and Welsh parentage, Gramich reads the work of Peter Schneider and Christa Wolf alongside Viet Thanh Hguyen’s Nothing Ever Dies, whilst reflecting on the ethics of memory, the relationship between state and identity, and the complexity of the division between East and West
Brot in Snowdonia
By 1989, Angharad Price was long used to eating ‘Berliner Brot’ in the kitchen of her German teacher in Snowdonia. She remembers the distinctive friendship and understanding which developed between them during her school years, thanks to the lessons of grammar, which proved to be far more: ‘I came to see that learning a language was more than mastering vocabulary and grammar, but rather a matter of opening with humility to the experience of others.’
Associate editor Angharad Penrhyn Jones explores the relationship between the charismatic leader and the insecure follower: why is it that this shadowy relationship can lead us to the edge? Exploring the careers of Saddam Hussein, Silvio Berlusconi and Boris Johnson, she considers narcissism, sociopathy and the rise of populism. And Howard Williams writes on revolution and the Romantic tendencies in British politics today: how can Kant’s concept of metamorphosis help us to understand and better navigate these ideological waters?
This article is part of the 21/2019 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our reviews, and you also can subscribe to our newsletter and get the bi-weekly updates about the latest publications and news on partner journals.
Published 12 December 2019
Original in English
First published by Eurozine