JOHN COWPER POWYS, British (English-Welsh) writer, lecturer, and philosopher was born (d: 1963). Powys’ novels are legendary for their massive size and numerous characters. In addition to their scope Powys’ books can be difficult because of their obscure references to Welsh culture and mythology. Other sources of difficulty for the contemporary reader are Powys’ obsession with the occult and an animist world view which, among other things, endows inanimate objects like the sun in A Glastonbury Romance with souls and points of view.
The appeal of Powys eludes some, while others are deeply moved. Because of this, his challenging works have never been fashionable, yet they have won a loyal following nevertheless. They have been praised by talents as diverse as novelists Henry Miller, Robertson Davies, and classical pianist Glenn Gould. Film director John Boorman wrote in his autobiography that early in his career he contemplated making a movie based on “A Glastonbury Romance,” a modern adaptation of the myth that Joseph of Arimathea possessed the Holy Grail. Powys wrote that the hero of the novel is autobiographical. Since the novel is about a young man who loves a male friend better than his lady love, what do we think Powys means by “autobiographical.?