I think this book is truly beautiful. Descriptive poetry of almost mindboggling quality.
I lend it with evangical zeal, and sometimes it is returned, when it isn't I can console myself with the thought that it will be treasured; it is always enjoyed.
I can almost understand why two "critics" found it depressing, because its tale of two "hen lanc", in Welsh literally "old youths" which usually means batchelors beyond marrying age, tells of frustrated love and worship of a long dead mother. But it is wrong to regard such lives as somehow failed, and the sureity with which one brother wealds the axe and the other keeps house is also a prayer in homage to the human spirit.
I do have one Welsh friend who could not read it, its depiction of two men so beautifully and accurately reminiscent of two long dead uncles it broke her heart. What should that mean in terms of star rating?
Bruce Chatwin was inspired by two brothers, not from Wales, but from the Welsh cultured area of Patagonia, written of in the poetic, if romanticised, travelogue "in Patagonia". Two men whose self reliance and stoicism, in their poor, tiny, Welsh dressered estancia, helped them lead a life of quiet, dignified displacement, speaking yr hen iath in a new world.
But the sheer beauty of the writing gives pleasure on every page and the final episode of the remaining brother, half of one, after the death of his twin, taking to the air as a birthday treat, though bathed in sadness, is truly, truly uplifting.
Beauty doesn't always mean happy, this book is beautiful, you may finish it with a tear of understanding but also a smile of enjoyment and appreciation, is that a definition of a true masterpiece?