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How Green Was My Valley (1939)
National Book Award Winners (1940)
This melancholic elegy for departed loved ones and the vanished way of life of a Welsh coal mining town is one of the most beautiful books ever written. The narrator, Huw Morgan, tells the story of the lives and loves of his extended family and their townfolk as their closeknit community disintegrates under the pressures of modern life and the decreasing profitability of the mine--from brothers who have to move to America to make a living or others who are killed in the coal pits, to the widowed sister-in-law who Huw loves for years but never tells, to Mr. Gruffudd the local minister who helps Huw through childhood paralysis & becomes his tutor, to Dai Bando who teaches him to box and most of all to the beloved parents who suffer long but love greatly. The language itself is lyrical and haunting, the story ineffably sad. But always, Huw reminds us that these remarkable people live on in him:
Courage came to me from the height of the mountain,
and with it came the dignity of manhood, and
I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me,
those who were to come. I looked back and
And their eyes were my eyes.
As I felt, so they had felt, and were to feel, as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever.
Then I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that
had no beginning, and no end, and the hand of
It is the permanence that these mortal souls gain through the medium of memory that ultimately makes the book uplifting.
See also:General Literature
Brothers Judd Top 100 of the 20th Century: Novels
National Book Award Winners
-How Green Was My Valley: A review of the novel and movie by Jon Kennedy