Nothing to Pay

Caradoc Evans, Author, John Harris, Photographer New Directions Publishing Corporation $11.95 (237p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1290-8
In this long-out-of-print, semiautobiographical work, originally published in 1930, Welsh satirist Evans creates unflattering portraits of the Welsh Nonconformist and of a shop assistant's life at the turn of the century, depicting especially what he perceived as Welsh miserliness and the Welsh passion to get whatever possible for free. Amos Morgan does everything from marrying so he does not have to pay for prostitutes to stealing from his father, all so he has ``nothing to pay.'' The most fascinating aspect of this novel is its description of the life of the British salesclerk in the early 1900s. Clerks lived in unsanitary and crowded housing provided by their employers, had to adhere to strict rules, were fined for the most minor infractions-and yet the competition for jobs was fierce. The narrative's Old Testament style can be overwhelming at times, but even those unfamiliar with the history of Welsh Nonconformism will gain a sense of rural Welsh life and religion's role in it. As the story follows Morgan from Wales to London, the tale becomes an ironic one of his rise from clerk to shop owner, and of his ultimate downfall. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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