Brian Lee, The Gem
Great literature and art have been an unintended consequence of war. The writings and images of those caught up in conflict or reflecting on its experience are embedded in our national consciousness. Wales has played its part in British battles over the past century, and in Wales at War its finest critics consider how, amidst the turmoil and trauma, creativity has flourished.
From the trenches of the First World War came Wilfred Owen, Hedd Wyn, Edward Thomas, Robert Graves and David Jones. The ideological battles of the 1930s tested consciences and saw writers develop an overtly political message, particularly in support of the anti-fascist struggle in Spain. Dylan Thomas wrote propaganda and some of his finest poetry in response to war, while his contemporary Alun Lewis is celebrated as one of Britain's finest writers, despite his early death in Burma.
Away from the fighting, novelists like Lily Tobias, Siân James and Stevie Davies have written of life on the home front and the impact of war on the lives of those left behind. In the visual arts, conflict has informed the work of Augustus John, David Jones, John Piper, Ceri Richards, John Petts, Brenda Chamberlain and others.
Editor Tony Curtis (poet and a respected art critic) has brought together experts whose subtle and accessible essays extend further our appreciation of what continues to be a mainstay of our literary and artistic canon.