Abandon All Hope

A Personal Journey Through the History of Welsh Literature

Author(s) Gary Raymond

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism, Welsh Interest

  • May 2024 · 256 pages ·216x135mm

  • · Hardback - 9781915279262
  • · eBook - epub - 9781915279286
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781915279293

About The Book

‘I awoke from a deep sleep I had taken under the shade of a tree in a field at the outskirts of a dark wood, without remembering how I had gotten there, or, indeed, where it was exactly, I had gotten.’

So begins a most unusual odyssey, in which a writer – who bears a striking similarity to our author, Gary Raymond – allows himself to be led through the many-layered realms of Welsh literature, not by Virgil but by the late Professor Raymond Williams.

Taking in the history of Welsh writing in English from the legacy of the bardic tradition to contemporary experimental works, Abandon All Hope introduces Welsh literature in a way it has never been presented before – as cutting edge, experimental, vibrant, exciting, intimate, and with a multitude of voices. This voyage into a uniquely Welsh Inferno offers a revolutionary new way to examine and explain literary history, traversing elements of chronology and genre, in a wide-ranging and, above all, highly entertaining manifesto for a new perception of Welsh literature both inside and outside of Wales.


‘Gary Raymond, with Raymond Williams as his unlikely Guide, enters as in a Dream the labyrinthine maze of Welsh Literature, unafraid of any dead ends or lurking academic minotaurs. He kills the latter with writerly insouciance and slays his bemused readers with street-smart wittiness. An engaging and thoroughly enjoyable romp across selective names, varied genres and institutional impediments to creativity, with plenty of stops along the way to take in his imaginative viewpoint(s).’

Dai Smith

‘This is a wild carnival ride through Welsh letters. Gary Raymond’s tour of literary hell is partisan, provocative but, above all, passionate in its belief in the importance of good writing to the mind of a nation. This innovative literary history is just as much fun as it is deeply serious about ideas. A treasure.’

Gwyneth Lewis

‘Many of the English-language writers of Wales languish unvisited in a “Celtic underworld”. This is an ingenious and culturally intrepid attempt to rescue them from that undeserved oblivion. Lively and maverick, Raymond proves to be a useful guide to a neglected literature.’

M. Wynn Thomas

‘A knowing but illuminating window of Welsh literature which lacks pomposity and intrigues in one compelling leap.’

Helen Lederer

‘As you’d expect from Gary Raymond, his breakneck tour of Welsh literature is fast, sometimes furious, often very funny, and always worth the price of admission. He really knows his stuff and riffs through our national back catalogue with insight and passion, always sure of his opinions and never shy of sharing them.’

Mike Parker

‘Abandon All Hope is unflinching, enlightening and essential. Gary Raymond places the nation’s literary canon under the microscope and surveys it with an acerbic eye and a heartfelt passion that is all too rare.’

Richard Owain Roberts

‘Raymond’s dream journey through Welsh literature is at once knowledgeable, opinionated, generous, perceptive, and laugh-out-loud funny. Raymond is particularly good on the complications and contradictions of Welsh literary identity and here cuts his own individual path, with cheerful iconoclasm and unabashed enthusiasm. A treat for anyone interested in Welsh – or indeed British – writing.’

Jo Lloyd

‘Abandon All Hope is the book you didn’t know you needed in your life and Gary Raymond is the ideal tour guide: erudite, personable, tremendous company, prompting you to regard his subject afresh and reinvigorated. This book frequently had me scampering to my shelves to reacquaint myself with the original works he so fascinatingly examines and that is a Very Good Thing. I'm crossing my fingers for a sequel.’

Niall Griffiths

‘In this self-styled Divine Comedy Cymru, Gary Raymond takes the reader on a personal but highly instructive romp through the annals of Welsh writing – mainly, though not exclusively, in English. A Dantesque overview of the terrain provides a prelude to more focused insights into the lives and works of some of our country’s outstanding literary figures and their works. Abandon All Hope rambles in the best possible fashion, the way an erudite pal might digress over a couple of drinks, and it offers a chirpy, idiosyncratic discourse on its subject matter that will inform, entertain and astonish in equal measure.’

Richard Gwyn

‘Gary Raymond is known for his lively observations on Welsh literature, most often as a magazine editor and radio presenter. He’s brave as well as bold, daring to come out with critiques which most other contributors to the field might hesitate to keep in their top drawer. This, his latest publication, shows him to be unafraid in his critical reach and genre, managing to cover ground with ease while experimenting with creative non-fiction. This is a comprehensive book about the literary culture of Wales which succeeds in being fun as well as fearless, a divine comedy of its very own which will easily withstand the onslaught of time. Bravo, Gary!’

Francesca Rhydderch

‘Inventive, engaging and edifying. An acidly charming read.’

Rachel Trezise

‘Bold, whacky and just what the doctor ordered. Like the memorable cast of characters who cajole his narrator through the inferno, Gary Raymond is our incredibly well-read guide in this unique tour of Wales’s English-language literary history. A book which will leave you with an enormous reading list and a glowing sense of – dare I say it – hope.’

Kathryn Tann


Welcome, weary traveller...

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Gary Raymond

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of The Review Show for BBC Radio Wales, and is editor and co-founder of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of three critically acclaimed novels, For Those Who Come After (2015), The Golden Orphans (2018), and Angels of Cairo (2021), as well as a non-fiction book, How Love Actually Ruined Christmas. He has edited a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, from short story anthologies to political memoir. As a critic he has been seen in the pages of The Guardian and heard on BBC Radio Four’s Front Row and BBC Radio Three’s Sunday Morning programme.

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