I’m delighted to say I’ve finished Y Stafell Ddirgel gan Marion Eames. Delighted because it’s over…
It’s rare for me not to recommend a book, but honestly, I think this one will work for a pretty select audience, specifically those interested in Quakerism and religious persecution in the seventeenth century.
The book tells the story of Rowland Ellis, a squire near Dolgellau who converts to Quakerism, which changes his life forever as his friends and family are persecuted for their beliefs.
Unfortunately for me it’s written in the vocab of the period so I was wading through Acts of Tolerance, the commonwealth, the Light within, bearing witness, taking oaths, seizure of property, suffering persecution, Papists / Baptists / Quakers / other sects, people being dauntless / presumptuous / meek / tranquil. And I just couldn’t get through all the vocab to enjoy the story.
I don’t think that it helped that it’s a mid twentieth century historical novel, as they’re really different in style to contemporary tastes. People are persecuted and bad things happen, but then you just move onto the next chapter, usually after Rowland admires somebody for their tranquility and faith in the face of such suffering. Maybe if I were reading it in English I’d find it intensely moving and appreciate his inner struggle and personal growth, but I’m not a good enough reader and I really just couldn’t get into it. Instead of relating to a universal story of faith, I was bogged down in trying to understand what was being said. I only finished it because I’m stubborn.
I feel a bit bad to be so negative about it as I know it’s a classic, but I recently heard an author comment they they had tried to make their recent book one people wanted to read, “not like Y Stafell Ddirgel”. So I don’t think I’m the only one to feel this way.
And on that note, I think that’s me done with the first language TGAU prose texts. Although I haven’t enjoyed every book, I’ve enjoyed the project as a whole. I was surprised how much they differed in complexity, from the extremely readable to this beast. My favourite is probably still I Ble’r Aeth Haul Y Bore by Eirug Wyn - that genuinely moved me. If you’re regularly reading books for native speakers in Welsh, don’t be afraid to give some of these a go. It’ll broaden your horizons and boost your confidence.
Now I’m off to read something fun…