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Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 Feb 2000

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (3 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140188886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140188882
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 241,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

To begin at the beginning: it is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobble streets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloe black, slow, black, crow black fishing boat-bobbing sea. [...] And all the people of the lulled and dumbfounded town are sleeping now.

Subtitled "A Play for Voices", Dylan Thomas's best known work, Under Milk Wood, carries the double legacy of the author's extensive work for radio--a medium for which, like the very different Samuel Beckett, he had an almost intuitive grasp--and his skill and ability as a poet. A polyphonic evocation of a day in the life of an imaginary small Welsh seaside town, Thomas's play--"a green leaved sermon on the innocence of men"--visits in turn the inhabitants of Llareggub (read it backwards for the joke) while they sleep, when they wake and go about their daily activities, as the night falls. Balancing a rhythmic, densely poetic language with a nuanced ear for the musical cadences of speech, the play's gentle, affectionate charm and humour resonate to create a deeply textured portrait of a community responding almost mythically to the awakening of spring.

The introduction to this new edition details the book's slow genesis and reveals a more serious aspect of Thomas's creation--it was composed in part as a response to the terrible inheritance of World War II--in which the affirmative, redemptive cast of the play carries a moral dimension, an imaginative, lyrical empathy for the regenerative innocence of the average human being and their capacity for grace. Llareggub becomes a space in which eccentricity is tolerated, sin is forgiven and love is nurtured--or at least dreamt about and possible. Thomas has a democratic compassion for the small dramas of the everyday and a belief that what is commonplace unites us, all underscored by the transformative power of the language he bestows on each inhabitant. His characters--Captain Cat, Myfanwy Price, Organ Morgan, Willy Nilly the Postman, Polly Garter, Dai Bread, and others--generously animated and blessed by their author, have entered many people's affection and literary memory. In this light, it is easy to see why Under Milk Wood has remained one of the best-loved works of the 20th century and one of the great plays for radio. --Burhan Tufail

About the Author

Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea in 1914, and during the course of his brief life produced a significant amount of work in the form of poems, short stories, film-scripts, broadcast stories and talks. He died aged only 39 in 1953, and is remembered as one of the greatest Welsh poets of this century.

Customer Reviews

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By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the best of Thomas. His affinity with the Welsh, his love of language, particularly their language, his melancholy and his air of delightfully mischievous humour just permeate this work through and through.
This was originally written to be heard, as a play for voices, i.e. radio. Reading it, however wonderful, and it is, is never going to replace the joy of listening to it, or seeing it in production. The play brings out the musical quality and the joyous rhythm of the words, and I would recommend using the book as a companion piece to the radio play, which is also available to buy.
I love the wonderful use of alliteration and repetition which makes this work seem so primal and ritualistic. I love the cheekiness of the characters; the blind captain, who reminds us that what we have to do is listen, the anally retentive housewife with two dead husbands who she still henpecks even after death and the drowned sailors like a Greek chorus pulling us back to the reality of ever present death roiling under all that effervescent life.
A masterpiece.
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Format: Paperback
One full day, from night to night, in a Welsh village, town and harbour. All Dylan Thomas's art is there everywhere everpresent in those few odd but packed pages. Unforgettable oxymorons : « night's first darkening snow ». Unforseeable metaphors : « his dream buckets down ». Unpredictable similes : « her ears fall off like figs ». A permanent joy, even in the most squalid situations : « and quick as a flash he [Mr Pugh] ducks her [Mrs Pugh] in rat soup ». The permanent music of the language and of innumerable songs : « We are a musical nation ». The simple and healthy desires of man for woman and especially of woman for man : « Tom who is two yards long, Dick who is three feet thick, Harry who is as sweet as a cherry, the good bad boys from the lonely farms, Willy Wee who is six feet deep, and Mr Waldo in Pembroke City, the chimbley sweep, till a kind young woman took pity, come and sweep my chimbley ». Everywhere we are at sea and in the hills enjoying life and its misfits, misdeeds, and misadventures from wave to wood, from beach to bloom and broom, « Let me shipwreck in your thighs ». « Off to Gomorrah » as Jack Black says, « all black like the Ace of Spades ». Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, Paris Universities II and IX.
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Format: Paperback
Under Milk Wood seems to be very out of fashion at the moment, maybe suffering from a hangover of being so popular in the 1970s. I don't think any schools or universities put it on their reading lists these days.
It is colloquial, but at the same time universally appealing. The lyricism of the language is so nice to read. And there's a bit of everything here, sadness, love, humour, marriage, poisoning, dreams. In its themes it is rather like James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, with the difference that Under Milk Wood is always a pleasure to read and never frustrates.
This play maybe sad in tone, but is never maudlin or cynical.
It concentrates on small town life, and small town squalor but is never political. Overall it's a very affectionate book.
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Format: Paperback
In the 1950s a friend insisted that i go to see Under Milk Wood at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. As a non-Welsh lover I went reluctantly, and spent ttwo hours with my chin down to my lower chest! I have loved it ever since that night.

Donald Houston as the narator was superb - his voice, lighter in colour than Burton's, made the verse sing.

Oh! to die of drink and agriculture.

Bert G
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Delightful. Have three children. Read it each time when a child was being born. Helped the whole procedure! Delightful! Delightful!
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Format: Paperback
I first read 'Under Milk Wood' for my A Levels many years ago and it totally mesmerised me. Not only did I love Thomas's unique and inventive way with words but I could actually hear the Welsh accent coming through as I read - how did he do that? Since then I've listened to the audio CD several times and have never grown tired of it - indeed, on every listening there is another gem I find to chuckle at or remember.

For anyone who loves words and language this book is a must - you won't be disappointed.
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Arrived well packaged and no additional writing on the pages. The only problem for me was the font which was too small, but that is a problem for me!
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