Places: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1940

Type of work: Short fiction

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Swansea

*Swansea Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog (SWAHN-see). Industrial seaport in southern Wales in which Thomas was born and raised. Wales’s second largest town, Swansea stands at the mouth of the River Tawe, from which it takes the Welsh name Abertawe, which Thomas’s stories use for it. Stories set within Swansea include “Patricia, Edith and Arnold,” which describes two servant girls taking a young boy (Thomas himself) to the park in winter, so that they can meet a young man who is two-timing them. “The Fight” features a school that is based on Swansea Grammar School, which Thomas attended and where his father taught English. This story also features the home of a cultured middle-class family, whose twelve-year-old son writes novels and classical music. His friend, the narrator, writes poems. Later stories include one about a young man taking shelter under a railway arch at night. Another concerns the young man having a literary discussion with friends, working in the offices of a newspaper, and visiting public houses. All the pub and street names in the stories are real places in Swansea.

*Rhossilli Sands

*Rhossilli Sands (rah-see-lee; now spelled Rhossili). Bay at the western end of the Gower Peninsula that runs about fifteen miles southwest from Swansea and is a popular day-trip destination for the town’s inhabitants. In “Extraordinary Little Cough,” a group of teenage boys travel there by lorry to camp for a fortnight. In “Who Do You Wish Was with Us?” an older narrator and a friend set out to walk to Rhossilli Sands but end up traveling most of the way by bus.

BibliographyGreenway, William. “The Gospel According to Dylan Thomas.” Notes on Contemporary Literature 20, no. 1 (January, 1990): 2-4. Does not assert that Thomas is a religious writer but that he achieved a biblical tone in much that he wrote.Korg, Jacob. Dylan Thomas. Rev. ed. New York: Twayne, 1992. Argues that although the tone of the stories is generally comic, the personal futility and inadequacy of the characters produces irony. Individuals come to recognize a shared sense of loss.Peach, Linden. The Prose Writing of Dylan Thomas. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1988. Shows Thomas shedding his fears of the darker side of sexuality, not so much condemning people for their idiosyncrasies as recording those characteristics with fascination.Pratt, Annis. “Dylan Thomas’s Prose.” In Dylan Thomas: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by C. B. Cox. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966. Shows that Thomas turned away from the tumultuous psychic drama of his early prose and moved from those inward concerns to a confrontation with the events of the social world. Asserts that in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog and subsequent work he speaks through a mask.Seib, Kenneth. “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog: Dylan’s Dubliners.” In Critical Essays on Dylan Thomas, edited by Georg Gaston. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989. Concludes that Thomas sought to do for Welshmen what Joyce did for the Irish: write a chapter of their moral history and allow them to view themselves through his eyes. The stories are linked by repetitive theme and metaphor.
Categories: Places