By Geraint H. Jenkins
An industrious educational and charmingly eccentric Romantic poet and forger, Iolo Morganwg (1747-1846) left at the back of a floor-to-ceiling stack of unpublished manuscripts in his small Welsh cottage. A Rattleskull Genius, in accordance with that trove of unpublished fabric now held on the nationwide Library of Wales, presents either a party and a severe reassessment of the writer and his contributions to Welsh cultural culture.
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Extra resources for A Rattleskull Genius: The Many Faces of Iolo Morganwg (University of Wales Press - Iolo Morganwg and the Romantic Tradition)
Xi. 17 18 ON THE TRAIL OF A ‘RATTLESKULL GENIUS’: INTRODUCTION Richard Crowe demonstrates, over a period of three decades (1776–1806) Iolo’s frequent visits to major libraries in Wales and England greatly enhanced his knowledge of prose and poetry, and his own personal collection of Welsh words swelled from c. 66 Iolo’s writings fused vivid sweeping narratives of national history with microcosmic depictions of localities. By combining factual information, imagination, subjectivity and passion, he offered his countrymen a new and compelling sense of the relevance of the past.
107. 13 14 ON THE TRAIL OF A ‘RATTLESKULL GENIUS’: INTRODUCTION easily identify. 47 As Iolo immersed himself in the esoteric lore of the druidic bards and shared a glass with boisterous friends, his ego became quite disproportionate to his physical size. Having hoodwinked the gullible Gwyneddigion into believing that his forged cywyddau, published in the year of the French Revolution, were the authentic poems of Dafydd ap Gwilym, he reinvented himself in the early 1790s as ‘Bard Williams’, a labouring poet descended from the ancient British Druids.
73 On the Continent, too, there are significant comparative contexts for the kind of nation-building which Iolo advocated. As R. W. Evans demonstrates in his analysis of the culture and politics of forgeries in central Europe,74 making the past a glorious, attractive and integral part of national ideologies and aspirations became de rigueur among marginalized ethnic groups. 75 Thus, to describe Iolo merely as a confidence trickster, a charlatan and a rogue is to miss the point. Thanks to the painstaking detective work of G.