A POWYS WEB SITE
A sad thought for 2019:|
Terrible sadness overwhelms me as I write that my wife Jacqueline died 24 July after one month in a coma from which she never recovered. Our son Jean-François was reading John Cowper's poem The Ridge to her when the end came. Among many tributes received, I found the text below especially moving:
Jacqueline, more than dearest friend, family.
The way she could purse her lips, wag a finger in disapproval, burst into peals of laughter and lay her hand on your arm in warmest affection.
Or sitting, fingers interlaced on her lap, looking at you intently, at all you were saying, her attention wholly fixed on you alone.
All this has gone but so much always to remember by those who loved her.
Wise, funny, serious, loyal, irreplaceable.
So grateful to have been part of her life and she a part of ours.
Jacqueline's site may be considered to retain at the present time its value as a source of information concerning some aspects of the contribution of the Powys family and corresponding available publications. No further changes are anticipated after the translations in the "virtual visit to WEYMOUTH" below have been updated to reflect Jacqueline's own French translation of Weymouth Sands, recently published as Perdita Wane, rather than the translation of Jobber Skald which was previously the only version available in French under the title Les Sables de la mer.
The e-mail address <firstname.lastname@example.org> will remain active for any questions concerning the web site.
Max Peltier, August 2019.
Jacqueline Peltier who developed this site dedicated to the Powys family was over many years the official representative and spokesperson of the Powys Society in France and elsewhere in mainland Europe.
The founding of the Society in 1967 reflected a feeling among Powys admirers and friends that the special quality of the Powys writings, particularly those of John Cowper, Theodore, and Llewelyn, was not sufficiently recognized. It declared that its aim must be 'the establishment of the true literary status of the Powys family through promotion of the reading and discussion of their works'.
After three decades, the Society has inevitably changed and expanded, but its object remains constant: to introduce people of all ages and interests to the remarkable writings, thoughts and contribution to the arts of the Powys family and their circle.
The Society publishes a journal and three newsletters a year and has embarked on a publication programme. In addition it organises an annual weekend conference, occasional meetings, exhibitions and walks in areas associated with the Powys family. The Society is always looking for new ways of accomplishing its purpose. It welcomes everyone interested in learning more about this extraordinary family.
A virtual visit to WEYMOUTH...
An interactive visit to the Dorset setting of the novel 'Weymouth Sands' written by John Cowper Powys while living in upstate New York in 1934 (in English and in French).
John Cowper Powys in America... America, between 1905 and 1934, as seen by one of her most fervent but clairvoyant admirers, the English writer John Cowper Powys (in English only)...
American Landscapes in John Cowper Powys's Letters to His Brother Llewelyn (in English only).
John Cowper Powys in Hungary... A lecture given at Eszterházy Károly College in Eger, Hungary, on 5 November 2008 about the affinities between the great Hungarian philosopher Béla Hamvas and JCP. (in English only)...
THE POWYS REVIEW : addresses the works of the Powys brothers, Welsh writing in English, modern and contemporary literature in general. Table of contents of all numbers
on-line. (English only)
LA LETTRE POWYSIENNE : The first almost completely bilingual French/English publication dedicated to the Powys brothers. An index to nos. 1 to 32 is available.
MUSIC FOR JCP : some musical works by Robert Carrington in relation to John Cowper Powys.
- THE STUDY by Mathé Shepheard mentioned in la lettre powysienne 9, 10 and 14 of the stained glass of John Hardman and Company under the leadership of John Hardman Powell from 1867 to 1895 is now available online and includes over 100 plates of windows by Hardman.
NOW AVAILABLE... Jugements Réservés, French translation of Suspended Judgments, preface by Marcella Henderson-Peal, translation and notes by Jacqueline Peltier.
POWYS IN PRINT : lists the works by the Powys's translated into French, as of August 2016. (French only)
The "Reader's Companions" by Professor W.J. Keith, University of Toronto, relative to some of John Cowper Powys' major works, are in a PDF format (easily downloaded for use directly on a computer screen or as printed booklets), and are currently available for Porius (in the new April 2009 version keyed to the 2007 Bond/Krissdóttir edition, and including all corrections and updates since 2004), A Glastonbury Romance, Autobiography and Owen Glendower. (Latest versions, June 2009).
'The Ridge', a poem by John Cowper Powys, in English and French (bilingual facing pages). Derived from the Internet Archive
file of the Autumn/Winter 1973 John Cowper Powys issue of granit.
Cecil Woolf's 2001 ~ 2009 catalogue of Books by and about John Cowper Powys. (English only)
Alyse Gregory and The Dial, this paper, originally published in Powys Notes Spring 2000, describes the important part Gregory played during the two years she was Editor, before her marriage to Llewelyn.
Powys Women, text of the informal presentation given 5 June 2010 at the Powys Society Day in Dorchester, discussing the sisters and mother of the Powys brothers, and showing how, in spite of the unfairness they suffered, and also of the fact they did not receive the same level of education as their brothers, they were able to overcome these handicaps and make a success of their lives...
The Mystic Leeway, reviewed in Powys Notes Summer 1998. An enthusiastic John Cowper encouraged Frances Gregg throughout the writing of this highly original work in which she describes her difficult life, her emotions and her feminist conceptions for the future.
John Cowper Powys et la fluidité, a paper in French on Wolf Solent, inspired by the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, which examines the themes of water and air in the novel.
'Modernity and Medievalism
in T.F.Powys's Mature Fiction': a paper by Dr Marius Buning. Dr Buning, who passed away in January 2008, was one of the leading experts in the field (English only).
A reading from Owen Glendower by a French Senator: an extract from Senator Pierre-Yvon Tremel's 2004 New Year wishes.
A CHURCH IN POWYSLAND The church of St Nicholas at East Chaldon, Dorset. (English only)
NB: Links to other Powys related sites will be found at the end of this web page.
1872 - 1963
John Cowper Powys was a prolific novelist, essayist, letter-writer, poet and philosopher, and a writer of enormous scope, complexity, profundity and humour. A powerful orator, he spent over thirty years as an itinerant lecturer in the United States, during which time he wrote his first four novels. In 1930 he retired to up-state New York and turned to full-time writing: it was here that he produced such masterpieces as his Autobiography,
A Glastonbury Romance and Weymouth Sands. He returned to Great Britain in 1934, settling in North Wales, where he wrote the historical novels Owen Glendower and Porius, the expository studies Rabelais and Dostoevsky, and The Brazen Head and other inventive fantasies. Other notable novels are Wolf Solent and Maiden Castle: all of them are rich in characterisation, psychologic analysis and evocation of place.
The Pleasures of Literature demonstrates the breadth of his literary interests, The Meaning of Culture and In Defence of Sensuality the immediacy of his thought. His Journal is in course of publication.
1884 - 1939
Llewelyn Powys was born in Dorchester, Dorset, spent his childhood at Montacute, Somerset, and as an adult lived for varying periods in Kenya, the United States (where he met and married the American writer Alyse Gregory), Dorset and Switzerland. His twenty-six books include a novel, Apples be Ripe, a biography, Henry Hudson, essays descriptive and polemical, memoirs and reminiscences. Of all the Powys brothers, Llewelyn was recognized as the most cheerful, the most at ease with existence: the only one for whom a title such as
Glory of Life could hold not a shadow of the ironic. Llewelyn's epicurean philosophy is intimately related to the tuberculosis with which he struggled for thirty years.
Among Llewelyn's best books are
Black Laughter, about life in Africa, Skin for Skin, a memoir of his first attack of tuberculosis and residence in a Swiss sanatorium, Impassioned Clay, a statement of his philosophical outlook, the essays collected in Earth Memories, Dorset Essays, Somerset Essays and Swiss Essays, and the fictionalized autobiography Love and Death. In their blend of the descriptive, the reminiscent, and the polemical, Llewelyn's best writings have retained both their urgency of appeal and their charm of evocation.
1875 - 1953
A man who rarely left home or travelled in a car, who claimed to love monotony, and who 'never gave so much as a sunflower-seed for the busy, practical life' - this was Theodore Francis Powys. He ran his own White House Farm at Sweffling, Suffolk (1895 - 1901) before 'retiring' to Dorset, determined to write. In 1904, he settled in East Chaldon, 'the most hidden village in Dorset', and there he remained until 1940, when the war drove him inland to Mappowder. In 1905, he married Violet Rosalie Dodds, a local girl; they had two sons and an adopted daughter.
Powys's unorthodox version of Christianity reveals strands of mysticism, quietism, and pantheism, but the major influence upon him was the Bible, and he claimed that Religion 'is the only subject I know anything about'. Sometimes savage, often lyrical, his novels and stories explore universal themes of Love, Death, Good and Evil within the microcosm of the rural world. In spite of the apparent realism of his settings, Powys is a symbolist and allegorist. Major works include
Soliloquies of a Hermit, Mr Weston's Good Wine, and Unclay; his
Fables and short stories are also much admired.
FAMILY AND THEIR CIRCLE
The three brothers were members of a family of eleven children born to the Reverend C F Powys, vicar of Montacute for thirty-two years, and his wife Mary Cowper Johnson. All the children were formidable individualists but Louis Marlow once wrote that when they were together they became 'one huge many-headed Powys'. It was their strong sense of family and their passionate love of nature that united them; it was their sometimes anguished quests for separate identity that drew them into a remarkable variety of careers: from schoolmaster to farmer, from poet to architect. Among them, Gertrude Powys was a painter of power and insight, Marian Powys an authority on lace and lace-making; A R Powys, Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, published a number of books on architectural subjects. Philippa Powys was a novelist and poet, as was Lucy Powys's daughter, Mary Casey. Littleton Powys published two volumes of autobiography; he was married to the novelist Elisabeth Myers. Llewelyn Powys was married to the American writer Alyse Gregory.
The Powyses inevitably attracted a wide circle of friends and admirers, many of them writers themselves. Among them were the novelist and autobiographer Louis Wilkinson (Louis Marlow) and his first wife Frances Gregg; the novelist, poet and short story writer Sylvia Townsend Warner; and the poets Valentine Ackland and Gamel Woolsey. In America John Cowper Powys was friendly with the novelist Theodore Dreiser and the poets Edgar Lee Masters, E A Robinson and Edna St Vincent Millay; in Wales with the poet Raymond Garlick and the novelist James Hanley.
The Powys family and their friends constitute an unusually wide-ranging spectrum of social, literary and imaginative interests.
Above texts by Glen Cavaliero, Lawrence Mitchell, Charles Lock and Morine Krissdóttir.
Acknowledgements to Thieu Klijn for initial input in 1997
L I N K S
- THE POWYS
SOCIETY : the official web site of the Powys Society.
- A scanned version of the special 1973 number of GRANIT
can now be downloaded from the Internet Archive.
- IAN MULDER's site : some thoughtful studies of several aspects of JCP's work by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable freelance, who was a regular contributor to la lettre powysienne.
- The entry for 7 December 2012 in a French blog by Gilbert Chagrot, concerned with various forms of music, poetry, painting, cinema and literature is a page dedicated to John Cowper Powys.
- THE SUNDIAL PRESS, an independent imprint having already published works by Philippa Powys, T.F. Powys, Llewelyn Powys and by Alyse Gregory.
BOULTER's homepage: a hip-hop scholarly enthusiast. The
New Generation for Powysiana (archive).