Wales is to have its place in a prestigious, award-winning series of books published by independent London-based publishers Francis Boutle, who specialise in anthologies of literature written in European regional and lesser-used languages.
There are already titles in Breton, Esperanto, Manx, Maltese, the Norman languages spoken in the Channel Islands, Occitan and Galician, and volumes are planned in Frisian, Catalan, Cornish, Basque and Scots Gaelic. The series recently won an award from Chambra d’Oc in the Piedmont, Italy, the first time a publisher has been recognised in this way.
Gwyn Griffiths and Meic Stephens, have begun compiling works of Welsh literature, beginning with Taliesin and Aneirin (sixth century), through the medieval period up to the nineteenth century and the flowering of Welsh literature in the twentieth century. The anthology is provisionally entitled The Red Dragon.
The contemporary poets will include Menna Elfyn and Gwyneth Lewis. Examples of work by Dafydd Iwan and Meic Stevens representing the song tradition of Wales will also be included.
Meic Stephens said, “Literature is the only art at which the Welsh have consistently excelled and the one which we can lay claim to be of European importance. Our anthology will serve the purpose of showing the world what riches we have and what pleasure is to be had from having a knowledge of this aspect of our national culture.
“One difficulty will be the paucity of translations of poetry and prose before the twentieth century. We are hoping to enlist the help of new translators. Another difficulty is in deciding who is to represent the twentieth century – we have so many to choose from.”
Gwyn Griffiths was co-editor with Jacqueline Gibson of The Turn of the Ermine, the Breton anthology which was the first in the series and a model for further volumes.
Clive Boutle, of Francis Boutle Publishers, said: “I am delighted that Gwyn and Meic have agreed to edit The Red Dragon. Gwyn really set the tone for the series with his contributions to The Turn of the Ermine. And in many ways Meic’s book Linguistic Minorities in Western Europe was the source and inspiration for the work we are doing now.”
> See details of the Lesser used Languages of Europe series