With a foreword by Elaine Morgan
The extraordinary thing about Gwyn Thomas is that he found anything to laugh about. He grew up in one of the grimmest and most depressed areas in the United Kingdom. He was the last (and felt himself to be the least wished-for) of twelve children. His mother died when he was six, leaving the memory of a beautiful and creative woman who ‘would look at me, and almost forgive me, sometimes, for being there.’ He inherited her zest for life, and acquired an appetite for learning which took him to Oxford, but he was miserably hardup and lonely there, and plagued by mysterious health problems. These grew steadily worse until he was twenty three, when he was told that an undiagnosed thyroid malfunction had been poisoning him for years and if he wasn’t promptly operated on he would shortly die. It doesn’t sound like the kind of raw material that would lead to his one day being hailed by a chorus of critics as one of the funniest men in the Western world. When that happened, it would have come as no surprise to those who knew him. Whatever he talked about, he could when he was in the mood reduce his listeners to helpless laughter.
Sex, murder, and a devastating, humour mark these three novellas that Gwyn Thomas wrote in 1946. In ‘Oscar’, the narrator of death and exploitation fails to fend off the evil that envelops him. In ‘Simeon’, the abuse of sexual and family power ends with violent death, and in ‘The Dark philosophers’ itself, the grimly humorous philosophers gather in an Italian cafe to tell the tragic tale of revenge and manslaughter that they engineer.
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… as if Thomas Hardy met Damon Runyon over a loving cup of small beer. New York Herald Tribune, 1947
Writer and broadcaster, Gwyn Thomas was born in Cymmer, Porth in 1913.
His other work includes The Alone to the Alone (1947); All Things Betray Thee (1949); The World Cannot Hear You (1951), and Now Lead Us Home (1952), as well as short stories, plays and an autobiography.