The work of the dramatist, politician and critic Saunders Lewis has elicited more interpretation in English than that of any other Welsh-language writer. This essay traces Lewis’s dissemination for an English-language readership from the 1940s until the present under three broadly chronological headings. Initially lionised, Lewis was adopted until the 1970s as a magus figure in both nationalism and the language movement. By the late 1970s, however, his conservative politics, including accusations of anti-Semitism and what was perceived as a less than enlightened attitude towards women and the urban working classes, saw him fall into disfavour. The essay concludes with the assertion that Lewis now occupies two discursive territories: as a man of faith removed from temporal concerns and, more tellingly, as a paradigm for Welsh writers in English from David Jones to Emyr Humphreys and R.S. Thomas.
- reception, Saunders Lewis