Georgia Burdett reviews Morlais by Alun Lewis


Seren, £12.99

In 1939, Cwmaman writer Alun Lewis was working on a novel called Morlais about a miner’s son growing in the Cynon valley. The work remained unpublished until this, his centenary year, when, edited by John Pikoulis, it has been released by Seren. During the period of the work’s composition, Lewis had been appointed a permanent member of staff at Pengam Boy’s School, where he was proving highly popular with the students. In a letter to his friend Dick Mills, Lewis describes Morlais as his attempt ‘to synthesise two lines – that of the industrial novel and of the intellectual-aesthetic novel.’ He said, ‘It’s my own life, really, I suppose, and that’s why I find it so difficult, to be honest.’ Less than six months later, and after much self-questioning, Lewis impulsively decided to enlist and joined the Royal Engineers in London. He did not live long enough to revisit the work.

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