A Week in Future Wales

 


A time traveller arrives in Wales in the year 2033 to find a peaceful and thriving country. He falls in love and plans to make a life in this new version of his homeland – only to be forced back to his own time. Searching for a way back, he encounters despair in a dystopian mirror-universe version of his beloved nation.

Will he find his way back to a utopian future? Will Wales?

This is the first translation into English of the classic Welsh-language time-travel novel, written in 1957 and imagining what Wales might be like in the year 2033. Will it be a thriving independent country at peace with its neighbours? Or a bleak dystopia with its culture forgotten and its population enslaved?

Islwyn Ffowc Elis, pictured in 1982

“Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd” was written in 1957 – though set in the year 2033 – by Islwyn Ffowc Elis, whose reputation as an author of Welsh-language novels had already been cemented by his 1953 classic “Cysgod y Cryman” (‘Shadow of the Sickle’). Today, Elis is regarded by many as having been the pre-eminent Welsh-language author of the 20th Century, with a reputation comparable to that of Daniel Owen in the 19th. 

The book describes the adventures of a young man named Ifan Powell, an office worker from Bangor, during a two week holiday that he takes in Cardiff visiting an old school friend. He is persuaded against his better judgement to take part in an experiment, organised by a German professor visiting the university, in time-travel. Going along with it in order to silence his friend’s goading, he is astonished to find himself in the year 2033, when Wales is a very different place.

Guided by the remarkable Dr. Llywarch and his family, who take him under their wing and show him around, he encounters an independent, free and prosperous country which, after a week, and despite having encountered its darker side as well, he is reluctant to leave – not least because by that time he is in love with Llywarch’s charming and gifted daughter, Mair.  

Forced to return to his own time, he cannot settle, and resolves to travel back to 2033 again and stay there this time. Doing so, he encounters a very different future Wales from the one he first visited; a dead country, its population living in grey servitude – its land, re-wilded with thick forest, used as a playground and prison camp by the all-powerful English State. Longingly seeking Mair again, he finds her as a shop-girl called Maria Lark who has no recollection of ever having seen him before. 

Returning to his own time in despair, Powell is left in no doubt that if he wants Wales to become the country he saw in his first journey, then it will be up to his generation to stop the trends that were leading it inevitably to be the country he saw in his second. 


Elis’s original text has been translated into English by Stephen Morris, whose previous work includes his acclaimed 2015 translation Daniel Owen’s great work, “Rhys Lewis”.


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