In print for fifty years, this gem of lyric prose has enchanted both young and old from its very first edition.
Dylan Thomas, one of the greatest poets and storytellers of the twentieth century, captures a child's-eye view, and an adult's fond memories, of a magical time of presents, aunts and uncles, the frozen sea, and in the best of circumstances, newly fallen snow.
By the time the story opens, Levin's mill is gone. Even Levin himself isn't much in evidence, being mostly a cipher at the center of a sharply funny look at provincial prejudice. The background is as important as the narrative: in the area that has variously been West Prussia, Poland, Livonia and, in 1874, part of Germany, the long history of national mixing has caused a sort of tetchy ethnic paranoia. "The Poles are all blue-blooded, and the Germans, who were Polish but have now been or considered themselves to be German for as many generations as they can muster, are, if possible, even more so." The Germans are divided among themselves with Baptists, Protestants, Adventists, Sabbatarians and Methodists all living in wary proximity, but that doesn't prevent the narrator's miller grandfather from appealing to a greater pan-German good to destroy his Jewish rival's mill. Offsetting the grandfather's gang is a loose confederacy of wanderers and outcasts--a circus troupe, the Gypsies Habedank and Marie, the painter Philippi and, above all, the singer Weiszmantel, who speaks a "confused mixture of German and Polish" but who sings the truth. Bobrowski, who was born in this area of West Prussia in 1917 and died in 1965, requires some work: scene cuts to scene with few transitions and a confusing reference may not become clear until many pages later. Attentive readers will, however, be rewarded with a story that is as deeply tender as it is wickedly amusing.
Ranks With Dickens
This short tale of Thomas’ childhood memories is one of the finest pieces on Christmas ever written. It has all of Thomas’ evocative imagery, is full of sentimental scenes, is never difficult to understand like some of his complex poems, and is redolent of mulled spices and old things. Its purity and simplicity are its greatest charms. Even if you have never experienced memorable holiday seasons, A Child’s Christmas in Wales is so rich, it will make you think you have. The memories will seem your own, and you will think, “yes, of course that happened, I remember it like it was yesterday.”
A very readable e edition of this classic
Christmas work by one of the 20th century's great writers.