A Week in Future Wales

 

The Book

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. 


The Publication Process

Stephen Morris, pictured in 2019

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”.

As of February 2021 a consortium has been formed, incorporated as “Cambria Futura Ltd.”, which will be publishing the book with a target date of early April, well in advance of the Senedd Election scheduled for 6th May 2021 in which the Welsh independence debate is expected to figure prominently.

What’s that picture at the top all about?

Most people who work in the technology industry will be familiar with the online comic strip ‘xkcd‘, written by Randall Munroe. Occasionally Munroe indulges in his hobby of finding novel and attractive ways to present information. On 25th February 2015 he published a visual representation of over 100 works of classic literature which were set at a time other than when they written, highlighting in particular books written in the past about times in the future that haven’t yet arrived. Elis’s book, with the slightly clumsier title “A Week in the Wales of the Future”, was featured front and centre.

How Munroe came to know about the book remains a mystery. The page that explains the graph simply cites the Wikipedia page for “Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd”.


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