Cockatrice Selections

The Cymru’r Byd Series

As the start of its Cymru’r Byd series, Cockatrice Books brings you fiction by Vsevolod Garshin and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (forthcoming), with short stories by George Moore to follow — celebrating the literature of Russia, Norway and Ireland, of Wales and the world.

The Untilled Field by George Moore

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A farmer whose son is set on emigration to America visits a convent to persuade a young novice to forsake her vows. A priest who has abruptly postponed a wedding sets off in pursuit of the couple to save them from mortal sin. A humble priest sets out to make his parish the Oberammergau of the West, and a woman who has spent her life's savings on a stained-glass window for a crumbling church comes to be revered as a local saint.

Written in part as a model for writers in Irish, and in part in condemnation of the oppressive power of the Catholic church, this seminal short-story collection portrays the thinkers, expatriates, peasants, and priests of a stateless nation in the final years before its liberation.

Published as part of the Cymru’r Byd series: celebrating the literature of Wales and the world.

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Father and Son by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

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Arne Kampen, restless and sullen, has reached manhood as though under a curse. His mother, possessive and pious, has made him promise never to leave the farm, and his father is a drunkard, brawler, cripple and lover, despised and feared throughout the valley, who has brutalised them both. On a nearby farm lives Eli Böen, as joyful and elusive as the Faye, the daughter of the woman his father loved and of the rival whose blow left him lame. Written with the unerring clarity of a Scandinavian saga and the kindly wisdom of a folk tale, this novel explores the struggle between fate and redemption, the longing for freedom and the need for bonds.

Published as part of the Cymru’r Byd series: celebrating the literature of Wales and the world.

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The Scarlet Flower by Vsevolod Garshin

Translated by E. L. Voynich and Rowland Smith

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A young writer lies wounded, hungry and dying of thirst, by the body of the Turkish soldier he has killed. A volunteer and private on the long march to Bulgaria assaults the officer who thought of him as an equal and a friend. A prostitute scorns the marriage that could save her life, preferring death to shame, and a patient in a lunatic asylum begins a solitary battle against the flower which is the source of all evil and suffering in the world. Combining the social awareness of Orwell or Gorky with the artistry of Turgenev, these stories demonstrate the work of a writer uniquely attuned to the sufferings of his people and the imperatives of his art.

‘Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky... None of our great masters created, at Garshin’s age, anything better than his work, and none can stand as so true and painfully effective a representative of the spirit of our troubled time.’

S. Stepniak

Published as part of the Cymru’r Byd series: celebrating the literature of Wales and the world.

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His Happiness by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

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The peasant son of a village peasant sets his heart on marrying the daughter of a local land-owner. A young lad aspires to scale the crags above his valley to the place where the eagles nest, and four short encounters between a father and the parish priest sketch the story of a young man’s life.

With a timeless simplicity that recalls the work of Margiad Evans or Caradoc Evans, and with a love of the Norwegian land and people, these three stories represent the work of one of the forgotten masters of European literature.

Published as part of the Cymru’r Byd series: celebrating the literature of Wales and the world.

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