Dan Bradley reviews | The Fall of Language in the Age of English | Minae Mizumura trans Mari Yoshihara/ Juliet Winters Carpenter| Columbia University Press

‘Under the circumstances, our meager language, which can never be of any use outside of our islands, is doomed to yield to the domination of the English tongue...’ This troubled message of inadequacy and resignation to ‘the absolute necessity of mastering the English language’ was written in 1873 by Mori Arinori, the first Japanese minister of education. His concerns reflected those of many Japanese intellectuals at the time, who doubted whether Japanese could even function as the language of a modern nation-state.

These concerns seem unfounded in retrospect, knowing as we do Japan’s considerable international impact on finance, technology and culture over the past forty years, but these inadequacies, and the asymmetrical relationship Japanese still has with English, are very much alive and well.

Kathryn Gray reviews | In Her Own Words | Alice Entwistle (ed)| Seren

A fine scholar, driven by self-evident passion for the field, Alice Entwistle follows the publication of her Poetry, Geography, Gender: Women Rewriting Contemporary Wales, with In Her Own Words, a volume of fourteen interviews with contemporary Welsh and Wales-associated women poets. The skills of an interviewer are, of course, distinct from those of a scholar, demanding the high-wire act of tact and inquisitiveness, of establishing personal rather than purely textual rapport, and of eliciting the trust of participants. Entwistle, on the evidence of this engaging, frank volume, proves that she possesses such admirable versatility; one of the principal pleasures of In Her Own Words is how faithfully personalities come singing off the page.

Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan reviews| Post-War to Post-Modern: A Dictionary of Artists in Wales | Peter W. Jones and Isabel Hitchman | Gomer

First mooted in the 1980s, this book has, understandably, been a long time in the making, for researching, writing, assembling and editing a volume of this kind is a huge, painstaking and often difficult undertaking, raising tricky questions and requiring potentially contentious decisions at every stage. The careers of some hundreds of artists who have been active in the years from the end of the second world war until 2007 are recorded here, providing, in the editors’ words, the first ‘up-to-date, detailed, compendious reference work about modern and contemporary art and applied art in Wales’. As the careful phrasing of the title indicates, the artists included are not all Welsh, though many would define their background and identity as Welsh. The net has been cast wide enough to cover not only those of Welsh parentage, birth or domicile, but also those who have trained or exhibited, received commissions or Arts Council grants, carried out residencies or had work purchased by public bodies, in Wales.


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