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Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas
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Under Milk Wood

by Dylan Thomas

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1,746184,044 (4.19)78
Member:MalcolmTucker
Title:Under Milk Wood
Authors:Dylan Thomas
Info:Phoenix (2003), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Literature, Your library, To read
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Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

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» See also 78 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This was a totally immersive pleasure. I savoured every word - and they're in abundance as they come at you almost without pause for thought or breath in this extended prose poem - 'a play for voices'. The tempo and rhythm matches that of a day's span: gentle and deliberate at times, busily frenzied at others. I don't know if this is Thomas' masterpiece as I'm only at the beginning of reading his work, but it must surely have been hard to better. It is a small piece of perfection - short in length but leaving a lasting impression. A day in the life of the backwater seaside town of Llareggub. I should say that it is a fictional town, but that almost seems ungrateful on my part - such is the power and vivid impression of his rendering of that place. It is a place alive with spirit and flavour, sounds and smells, tones and tastes. There are ghosts and poetry, dreams and gossip. Hopes and memories abound. At times I was struck by an almost Chagall-like sense of imagery. There are equal parts tragedy and wonder, as well as the fantastic and the banal; and a fair dollop of fruity humour to boot.

I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook version remade by the BBC in 2003, featuring the pitch-perfect original recording of Richard Burton as 'First Voice', together with a new all-Welsh cast of many wonderful voices - including Sian Phillips as 'Second Voice'. I've seen the 1970s film adaptation before but this audio recording was superlative. Now I want a printed edition - and I hope there'll be a suitably designed commemorative one out in 2014 for the Thomas centenary - as I know that I will want to savour this all again, line by line, over and over. As soon as I finished it I put the first disc back in and had to listen to it all over again. It is a magical and beautiful thing. ( )
  Polaris- | Dec 2, 2013 |
This play is written more for radio than for stage, so it's more about voice than image. The work is reminiscent of Spoon River Anthology, except that most of the characters in this are living, and the action takes place over a single day in a small Welsh village. The characters are introduced as they sleep, and visited in their dreams, then as they awake, we move through the day with them, an ordinary day in a small village, nothing special. This is a play where nothing really happens. It's a slice of life on a quotidian day in a quotidian town. Thomas couches it in poetic language, making the events seem more like magic than mundane, and a chorus narrates through the entire play the events that are unfolding as we eavesdrop, occasionally explaining some detail of life that would otherwise go unremarked. A good read, but probably would be even better when spoken. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Jul 2, 2013 |
A radio 'feature', rather than a play, according to the introduction to my edition, Under Milk Wood is amazing. It's full of lively, unique description, a rapidfire sketch of village life. I can't even pick out a part I like best because all of it is vivacious and interesting. The description, on the first page, for just one example, of the night, 'starless and bible-black'. Dylan Thomas knew what he was doing when it came to language, at all times, and it shows.

The introduction to this edition, by Walford Davies, is a very good one, giving an idea of the background of the story, context to explain what's going on, bits about Dylan's writing process... And the back is full of explanatory notes.

A quick read. Likely to reward rereading richly, I'd say. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |

Dylan Thomas originally intended this work to be radio play. However, my first experience of it was seeing the film adaptation narrated by Richard Burton, back when I was in high school in the 1970s. I remember two things about the experience: loving the sound of Richard Burton's voice, and feeling overwhelmed. This extract from the review in the New York Times goes some way to explaining my reaction:
Too many words, perhaps, for the stage. Too many words, I'm convinced, for the screen. It's not simply the quantity of words, though. It's also their ornateness. They overflow the ears and get into the eyes. Great clouds of them everywhere, like swarms of big soft gnats. They won't stop, and they make the job of the film adapter almost impossible.
Since then I've read the play and seen at least one stage production. However, it took until today, when I saw this production by the Sydney Theatre Company that I came to fully appreciate not just the magic of Thomas' words, but the fact that a stage production really can work. The production was wonderful and the words are still racing around inside my head.

A few years ago, my daughter recited these lines from the play at the wedding of her best friend to a Welsh boy. This is what Mr Edwards says to Miss Price:
I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast.
Wonderful, wonderful writing. The great clouds of words no longer overwhelm me. They transport me.
( )
  KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
Rewritten July 30th, 2011, read way back when and reread 2011

Some works of literature just beg to be read out loud - This is the House that Jack Built and Hiawatha are two that most people are familiar with. Under Milkwood too, is better appreciated read aloud.

A sample (read aloud with Welsh accent, sing-song, go up like a question at the end of the line):

FIRST VOICE

Mr Pugh, in the School House opposite, takes up the morning
tea to Mrs Pugh, and whispers on the stairs

MR. PUGH

Here's your arsenic, dear.
And your weedkiller biscuit.
I've throttled your parakeet.
I've spat in the vases.
I've put cheese in the mouseholes.
Here's your... [_Door creaks open_
...nice tea, dear.

MRS PUGH

Too much sugar.

Or try this, read by Richard Burton (who was also from the valleys) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuPO2Kvqlms


When I read this play by Dylan Thomas, I hear the village life of my childhood come to life. He caught the lilt and cadence of the valley speech and the trivial preoccupations of the people perfectly. Of course it helps that like Dylan Thomas I am also from South Wales and have the accent down pat!

A little known fact, apparent to all Welsh people but no-one else, is that the village of Llareggub which looks perfectly Welsh is actually the English Bugger All backwards. (If it had been Welsh it would have been Llanreggub and mean the Parish of St. Reggub!) ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dylan Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burton, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Claus, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobble streets silent and the hunched, courters’ – and- rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeback, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or as blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfounded town are sleeping now.
Quotations
And before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes. Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard.// Willy Nilly postman.....downs his last bucket of black brackish tea and rumbles out bandy to the clucking back where the hens twitch and grieve for their tea-soaked sops.// Praise the Lord! We are a musical nation......Reverend Eli Jenkins.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811202097, Paperback)

Completed just before his death in 1953, this work gives the fullest expression to Thomas' sense of the magnificent flavor and variety of life.

A moving and hilarious account of a spring day in a small Welsh coastal town, Under Milk Wood is "lyrical, impassioned and funny, an Our Town given universality" (The New Statesman and Nation).

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:42 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Music for the songs": p.100-107. Completed just before the author's death in 1953, this comical and dramatic work presents the tale of a single spring day in the lives of 53 characters in a small Welsh village.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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