Dark Philosophers, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Sex, murder, and a devastating, humour mark these three novellas that Gwyn Thomas wrote in 1946.

Death, exploitation, and evil abound, and in 'The Dark philosophers' itself, the grimly humorous philosophers gather in an Italian cafe to tell a tragic tale of revenge and manslaughter.


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Review by

Newly republished by the Library of Wales this is a dark, grim and sometimes humorous collection 3 novellas by Gwyn Thomas an author and playwright who was described as 'the true voice of the English-speaking valleys'. Born in 1913 the youngest son of a coalminer and struggling to find work during the 30s depression he is writing here, what he knows. This will do nothing to shift old welsh stereotypes of poverty stricken, downtrodden miners and huge numbers of unemployed living in tiny, cold damp houses amidst the much rained upon slag heaps but that doesn’t lessen its interest or value.The longest story (The Dark Philosophers itself) is by far the best. The initial description of bunch of guys sitting around an Italian cafe discussing politics may not sell it. It is really a delicious tale of religion, politics, love and revenge with a very amusing, sarcastic narrator and populated with some real and interesting characters. A story to chew and relish in the up and coming ending. Thomas really shines here and it’s worth seeking the book out for this story alone.The other two tales are shorter and less memorable. Oscar I read long ago and barely remember apart from the unremitting bleakness and downbeat ending, the flashes of humour passing me by as my modern sensibilities were overwhelmed. The last is the most shocking but suffers from the plot being obvious to a modern reader, still it’s an err.. entertaining tale of incest and murder in the valleys, rich in description and characters.

Review by

I only read 'Oscar' from this volume, since that's all I have to read for class. I was promised that Gwyn Thomas is pretty funny. There is a dark sort of humour in his work, yeah, but it wasn't laugh out loud funny, at least not most of the time. There's something very, very bleak about it. Oscar isn't exactly a sympathetic character, and no one else in the story has the personality to counteract how strong a character he is, so it's a pretty slimy sort of read, too.

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