Kate Roberts John M. Jones - Essay

John M. Jones

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Kate Roberts has been rightly called "Brenhines ein llên" (Queen of our literature). She is the author of countless short stories…. Yr Wylan Deg (The Beautiful Sea Gull) is her most recent volume….

Roberts's stories do not conform to the usually accepted pattern of the genre. They are more like anecdotes or mood pieces, with minimal construction and very little plot Their charm lies in their simplicity, their sentimentality and their appeal to the Welsh spirit. Many of the main characters are elderly, as is the author herself, and this is appropriate; one writes best about an age one knows best. Her style is pure classical Welsh, though the sentences are short and are not involved; her dialogue is colloquial without containing the barbarisms so frequent in today's Welsh prose.

Her outlook is strictly Victorian; there are no incidents of premarital love, no foul language, no dramatic confrontations such as one finds in the real world and as modern fiction in other lands has so vividly portrayed. In fact, there are no real villains—only misguided, selfish, weak or spiteful people. Roberts's characters live in a sterile world where most people are good and where the religiosity of former years is still a reality. There are few great joyful moments but few overwhelming tragedies either; life is a pilgrim's progress, not a Rabelaisian riot. The overall tone is sadness and recollection….

John M. Jones, "Other European & American Languages: 'Yr Wylan Deg'," in World Literature Today (copyright 1977 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 51, No. 4, Autumn, 1977, p. 665.