The English version of this book begins with a foreword linking the somewhat more historical theme of Welsh nationalism to wider current political developments in post-Brexit-vote Britain, which in itself is worth a read. You immediately know you’re reading the work of an academic who can sharply analyse and dissect.
The book is of academic nature and draws parallels between the Austro-Hungarian empire with its multi-ethnicity, multiple languages and nations, and Wales. It is a sound and detailled analysis of political and other factors that influences language use and the formation of nationalism with and without focus on language. Strangely enough it discovers a difference between Eastern European nations, such as Czechia, Slovenia and Slovakia, compared to less successful Western Basque Country, Brittany and Catalonia.
The book examines the role of language as group or nation defining factor and how this has failed in Wales.
It identifies Liberalism and its many ideological shapes and forms, changing meanings and popularity as factor that worked against the establishment of Welsh language in education.
While it kindly differentiates between the liberals in the past and present and between various trends in present liberalism, it lays a large portion of the blame for the title question on their feet.
For me, as liberal politician, this doesn’t bode well. Luckily, the author concludes that another big segment of the blame lies with the people of Wales who simply do not have a strong enough desire to drive the language forward.
The book is excellently written, stimulating and academically sound. Brookes always stops shor tof victimhood and one-sidedness. I lack some historical knowledge to assess all claims but feel it’s written with political bias, yet, not blindly ideological.
I guess it makes some uncomfortable read for all people from the Welsh language community, the English-Welsh community and the English.
For me it was particularly interesting as a descendent of a Czechoslovakian grandmother and other European heritage.
I can’t agree with everything but I applaud the author for his line of arguing and research. An extraordinary read and highly recommended.
You can meet the author at the Llandeilo Lit Fest on
Thursday at 19:00 at the Cottage Inn
“Why Wales Never Was” –
Journalist Simon Brooks and Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price discuss Simon’s book “Why Wales Never Was” – yn Nhafarn y Cottage