Customer Review

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Prints of Wales, 19 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Bred of Heaven: One man's quest to reclaim his Welsh roots (Paperback)
An accessible book for holidaymakers in Wales who wish to know more about its people. This sympathetic account examines some of the important institutions and cultural elements of Welsh Wales, such as the Eisteddfod, male voice choirs, language, religion, mining, and so on. Travel writing has always been dogged by the criticism that it reveals more about the writer than the subject people and place. In highlighting the difference between one culture and another, the many similarities are glossed over, or even lamented as evidence of the malign forces of capitalism/exploitation/conquest. The best travel writing acknowledges this, and attempts a more rounded picture. Moreover, as a sub-discipline of literature it does not care much if the reader intends to book a holiday to the place(s) concerned. The very opposite is the case with `humorous' travel writing. Like `alternative comedy', old jokes and attitudes survive, albeit repackaged for a more ostensibly progressive audience. One the one hand, Bred of Heaven is a hackneyed narrative about a sophisticated metropolitan rejecting his upbringing to embrace what he (positively) identifies as specific elements of `Welshness', as against a vague (negative) notion of Englishness. On the other, because the book self-identifies as `humorous', all this is done with a warm smile. Does the latter cancel out the former, is it a license to produce essentialist notions of national identity? For the present the answer is yes, for if the book was not `humorous', it would be lambasted as patronising, uneven, and self-indulgent. As for the humour, it is funny in places, but for the most part it is a cosy narrative intended to warm the heart.
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Initial post: 21 Apr 2013 19:53:40 BDT
Good review - great header!
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Location: Northern Ireland, UK

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