Past Events Archive: 2020

COVID-19: The Zoom Year

All these events took place online.

Saturday 5 December 2020 — Discussion of Chapter 12 of JCP’s Autobiography:

“There’s A Mohawk In The Sky!”

TO BE HELD ONLINE by ZOOM 15:00 GMT (Max 1.5 HOURS to 16:30)
If any member wishes to join the discussion, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.

Thayendanegea (1743–1807)
Thayendanegea (1743–1807),  a Mohawk leader
Gilbert Stuart,1786, Fenimore Art Museum

Our discussion of Chapter 12 will enable us to consider the role that JCP’s retirement to a house called Phudd Bottom in up-state New York played in his creative life, (it gave him the freedom, isolation and emotional stability which enabled him to write his most important works to date), his appreciation of the local landscape – “the country of the Mohawks” - (the landscape of rivers, streams and hills he discovered on his rambles with his Druidic cudgel, accompanied by his dog, reminded him of Derbyshire and Shropshire), his reflections on the debt he owed to living in America,  his inner spiritual growth, the development of his personal Taoist philosophy, his daily mental rituals, and his friendship with his neighbors, Mr Krick and A D Ficke. The four years he spent at Phudd Bottom he says “have been very nearly the happiest of my life.” Autobiography is surely one of JCP’s greatest and most magnificent books. Chapter 12 is basically a summa of JCP’s life experiences in America but also provides a glimpse forward into the future to Wales, Merlin and Welsh mythology.
— Chris Thomas

Read more... Chris’s notes plus reading list in full

Monday 26 October 2020 — ZOOM discussion of The Inmates (1952) by the Reading Powyses Facebook Group

At 19:00 GMT (NB:clocks change from BST on Sunday 25 Oct)
All those wishing to participate in the ZOOM discussion please e-mail Dawn Collins at thepowyssocietyfb@btinternet.com.
ZOOM connection details will be emailed to individuals well before the meeting
The Inmates, John Cowper Powys, (Macdonald, 1952)
Photo: Dawn Collins


All Society members who use Facebook are warmly invited to join the Facebook Reading Powys Group by following this link. Non-members are warmly invited to become Society members and then join this group, which has been proceeding through the novels of John Cowper Powys in sequence, enjoying the company of fellow enthusiasts. With The Inmates we reach the late JCP novels but — as Ronald Hall writes on the back cover of the Village Press edition — there is plenty to enjoy:

This “wild book”, creating as Powys dared to call it, a “Philosophy of the Demented”, expresses fundamental truths about “madness” and “sanity” only now beginning to be speculatively charted by psychiatry.
The Inmates is a humorously impassioned defence of the obsessional daimons usually consigned to the milieu of the artist. in truth, they are the psychic force-fields of us all, in our longings, day and night dreams, fantasies and most delicate (and most transgressed!) intimations.

The Inmates also has descriptive passages — such as the numinous pre-dawn light in Chapter 11 Hither and Thither — that can stand alongside the best of Powys’s writing.

Sunday 16 August 2020 — Powys Society AGM

TO BE HELD ONLINE by ZOOM 15:00 BST (Max 1 HOUR to 16:00)

The Annual General Meeting will be convened as a Zoom video meeting, for those who wish to join by that method. All paid up members of the Powys Society are welcome to participate in the AGM.

If any member wishes to join the AGM, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.

Saturday 15 August 2020 — Discussion of A Glastonbury Romance, Chapter 19, The Pageant

Sherborne Pageant 1905
Sherborne Pageant, 1905 (see film)
(Thanks to Sherborne School archives)
TO BE HELD ONLINE by ZOOM 15:00 BST (Max 1.5 HOURS to 16:30)

In place of this year’s postponed conference we would like to offer members the opportunity of participating in a discussion by Zoom video link of A Glastonbury Romance, Chapter 19, The Pageant.

This discussion will enable us to examine how JCP develops through the medium of Mr Geard’s ‘religious circus’ important themes that weave their way through the whole book: the Passion of Christ, Nature, Cymric mythology, self-sacrifice, the endurance of pain, and the conflict of good and evil.

If any member wishes to join the discussion, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com.

Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.

The Sherborne Pageant of 1905 (see inset caption) is likely to have contributed to JCP’s portrayal of the Glastonbury pageant in his novel. As a page on the Sherborne School archive shows, his younger brother Will Powys took part in an episode of it. He appears in costume in a group photo.

Tuesday 7 July 2020, 19:00 BST — (max 1.5 hours)
Reading Powyses Facebook Group — Zoom discussion of Owen Glendower

To join this discussion, please e-mail Dawn Collins at thepowyssocietyfb@btinternet.com.

We will then send you the joining details nearer the time.

All Society members who use Facebook are warmly invited to join the Reading Powyses Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/271068293345294/.
Any non-members are warmly invited to become Society members and then join this group, which is currently proceeding through the novels of John Cowper Powys in sequence, enjoying the company of fellow enthusiasts.

Saturday 9 May 2020 — Discussion of Chapter Six of John Cowper Powys’s novel Maiden Castle

HELD ONLINE by ZOOM 14:00 BST

This was the Society's first Zoom video meeting. Hosted and moderated by Kevin Taylor: 23 people took part and the online format allowed for a fully international participation. Typical of the many appreciative comments received, HB writes:

Thanks, Kevin, for organising.  It was so lovely to see everyone as well as to have such an erudite discussion.  Could we do something like this in the summer to make up for the lack of a conference?

We do indeed hope to build on this. Expect further announcements.

 

Recommended texts:

  • new complete edition of Maiden Castle published by University of Wales Press, 1990, with introduction by Ian Hughes, pages 224-277 (which  is also the version used for the kindle EBook)
  • restored complete edition published by the Overlook Press, 2001, pages 224-276.

JCP commenced writing Maiden Castle at Rat’s Barn on Chaldon Down in 1934 immediately following his return to England from America. The novel was finished in Corwen in Wales in February 1936 and first published in USA, with some editorial cuts, in 1936 and in UK in 1937.

Maiden Castle
                                                  Wilson Knight described Maiden Castle as a fiery book made mainly from the fire of the intellect full of abysms of the mind as well as abysms below the earth. Chapter Six of Maiden Castle incorporates these ideas beginning with a discussion between Dud No-man and his father Urien Quirm on questions of the nature of reality. Dud wonders if Urien truly believes in the reality of supernatural influences and powers. Urien defends his core belief in a level of reality that can’t be identified with concrete physical existence and condemns Dud’s all or nothing attitude. Our discussion of Chapter Six will trace these conflicting opinions, and states of mind, which are played out in a psychic drama on the top of the earthwork Mai-Dun. We will examine the relationship between Dud and Urien and consider the thematic significance of JCP’s references to the struggle between the past, present and future, ancient Welsh texts, Welsh mythology, other dimensions, ghost-scents, the reincarnation of the old gods and chthonic powers, Spengler, Communism and Christianity. Other questions remain unanswered at the conclusion of the chapter which ends on a note of irresolution with Dud No-man contemplating the prostrate body of Wizzie. Dud torments himself with the thought of losing her — it was blighting desolation — returning the reader to Wilson Knight’s imagery of abysms of the mind. In a recent book about the novel Harald Fawkner has pointed however to another powerful liberating aspect which he finds in JCP’s celebration of the elements. Natural phenomena, especially the Mai-Dun wind, alongside descriptions of the flora and fauna of Maiden Castle are vividly evoked throughout Chapter Six of Maiden Castle.

Tuesday 25 February 2020 — online discussion of Morwyn by the Reading Powyses Facebook Group

7:00 pm GMT:

To take part in this stimulating discussion, please join the group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/271068293345294/.
All Society members who use Facebook are warmly invited to join; any non-members are warmly invited to become Society members and then join this group, which is currently proceeding through the novels of John Cowper Powys in sequence, enjoying the company of fellow enthusiasts.