The dirty dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain

The dirty dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain

Irish Gaelic fiction

Original title –  Cré na Cille

Translator – Alan Titley

Source – library book

I want to read this when it came out and a chance look on my library website the other week and Iw as shocked they had a copy, this book is considered the first modernist novel written in Irish Gaelic. Máirtín Ó Cadhain was heavily involved in the republican movement in the 1930’s. He worked as a journalist wrote short stories and published this book in his lifetime since his death two more novels have been published. I will be changing my quotes here slightly and using the opening of chapters, this is because next month Yale through Margellos world republic of letters the same imprint as this book is from are publishing a second version of Cre na cille in translation, which I intend to read and at that point will compare the wording in both translations to see what is different.

Don’t know if i am in the pound grave, or the Fifteen Shilling grave? Fuck them anyway if they plonked me in the Ten Schilling plot after all the warnings I agave them. The morning I died I calls Patrick in from the kitchen, “I’m begging you Patrick, I’m begging you, put me in the pound grave, the pound grave! I know  some of us are buried in Ten Schilling grave, but all the same…”

The opening chapter The Black earth and a new arrival in the earth wonders did her husband listen to her!

Now back to the book the dirty dust is set in the graveyard of a small town of connemera. What we have is voice of all those buried there talking away as each person arrives in the new grave they are set upon as the dead try to find out what has happened between burials. This sees old feuds carrying on wounds open wider in the earth from the time the new republic was formed and who was on whom side. You get caught up in this world of voices and often forget it is the dead that are speaking.This is like being in a busy Irish pub in that cacophony of voices all talking at once.

-The sky is mine, the sea, the land…

-The hinterland is mine, what is upside down, the inside , the lower depths.You have the edges and the contingent…

-The light of the sun is mine, the shining moon, the sparkling star..

-The mysterious recesses of every cave are mine, the jagged pits of every abyss, the dark heart of every stone, the unknown guts of every earth, the hidden stem of every flower..

-Mine is the sunny south, brightness, love, the ruddy rose and the maiden’s smile…

-Mine is the dour north, darkness, misery, the shoot that gives life to the rose petal, the web of veins that drives the diseased blood of melancholy routing laughter from the cheeks to lighten the brightness of the face..

-mine is the egg, the sprout, the seed, the source …

-mine is

I choose the opening of chapter 9 The wasting earth as the detached nature of the voices is very Beckett like .

This is a hard book to describe because that is what it is the dead talking and talking in that irish way of the crack these have all kissed the blarney stone and have the gift of the gab. Cadhaim wrote the book in 1949 so the same year Beckett brought waiting for Godot out. Brian O’nolan was writing absurd piece for the papers as  Myles na gCopaleen . two of his contempary . I choose these two as they seem nearest to him this book must have been read by Beckett there is part of this that reminds me so much of his later plays the detached nature of the voices in the book is so like those plays. As for O’Nolan he seems to poke fun at the irish establishment the same way O’Nolan did in his Myles character.Why it has taken 66  years to finally reach us in English I don’t know but know we have it we see what a lost gem it is and a missing piece in many of ours Irish lit knowledge. Another gem from world Republic of letters.

Have you read this or any Gaelic novels ?

Langrishe, Go down by Aidan Higgins

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I don’t read enough Irish lit over the years of this blog I have want to read a little as it is where I was born and my family have a history tied back to the 1600’s in Ireland. So when I saw the sad news of Aidan Higgins passing a few weeks ago, I decide it was time to read his debut novel which was considered his best book (I often feel this is a hard cross to carry as a writer when that first book is so praised and lauded it is always hard to hit a second home run. Higgins had written many books and after this I will be trying him again. Sorry it took his death for me to finally try him .

Cattle-Jobber; the man in the gap. A life given to bullocks ad heifers, stringers. Bone and gristle. Stewing fat, Helen Langrishe looked away. The heavy wheel ran on. She cleared the glass once more with the heel of her glove and stared out through the port-hole at the countryside now coming into sight on the left hand.

The conductor, worn leather satchel hanging down, was talking to another passenger, his hand outstretched for a fare. she regretted not answering him. The way it was at Springfield, they had got out of the way of exchanging common civilities.

Helen the sister on the bus back from Town at the start of the book with how bleak their lives are .

Langrische, Go down is the story that is very common in Irish history in the 20th century and that is the fall of a landed family. This is captured the family in what may be its last generation The three  langrische sister live in the decay ruin of the once proud home.We see after the opening chapter and the plight of the family when Helen returns and passes on the dire straits of the sisters lives. The main part of the story focus on the youngest sister Imogen and the one chance she gets to maybe carry on the family but also escape the world. This comes when the sister open their lives  to a German Student who is staying in one of the estates cottages.  The young sister falls for this Man with his views on the purity of Irish women. This is the story of two worlds meeting the dying British empire of old Anglo-Irish families like this one , the rise of Facism in Europe through Otto. Otto is a man who uses Imogen really for me I was reminded of some of Maugham’s characters in Otto the way he treated Imogen. He is a darker character than he first seems.

-Irishwomen, said Otto with fervour, they are so pure and clean.

-So cold?

-So pure, Otto said, and that’s not to be found any more in Germany– that great purity. But here you have it. And also that look in the face, the eyes, and one knows that such women are not corrupted. One knows it(thumping himself on the breast) Here

-Ireland is still rearing them still, Imogen said widening her eyes at him.

-A man might sometimes have filthy thoughts about girls. That’s natural enough. But when I meet Irish girls and can recognise at once their essential purity, then I am touched, incapable of a base thought.

Otto with Imogen she is still a virgin at 39 when she meets Otto is he the one?

This is one of those books where a lot doesn’t happen the beauty is in the way the prose draw you into the world of the sisters the decaying house what Higgins captures is the world that world of de Valera Ireland, which in some ways is the final nail in the sisters coffin so to speak the change of the world around them and them not able to catch up to the world. This isn’t a book for those who want a story. This is the story of broken grandeur the whole world of  Langrische sisters is dusty, ill or just about to fall apart. These are like characters in Paul Scott’s novel staying on or the spinster sisters in Agatha Christie’s  Nemesis The Bradbury-scott’s both of whom like the Langrishe have fallen out of step with the world around them.A richly written book by a writer that maybe should be better known. Have you read him ?

Irish Literature

Source – Library book

Winstons first secondhand book buys of 2015

Well a change today from  my  usual book choices sees me only buying just  one translated book today , that said it gets hard to find books I’ve not read in the local charity shops as most books in translation that tend to be given are the popular ones that I’ve read or haven’t an interested in reading any way to the first three books of 2015 .So whilst waiting to meet Amanda after work in town I did managed to get round all the shops in town .

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First there  was these  two books from Oxfam’s sale .At swim two birds by Flann O’Brein ,I am going try and buy a number more books from Ireland for a project later this year or even next to bump up my books from Ireland , which is rather small and as it is the place I was born and my family comes from that is rather sad , so I’m wanting to put that right .The second book is closely observed trains by Bohumil Hrabil , I have this on dvd so want read and compare to the film .

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The third book was from save the children is a collected box set of a collection Finbar’s hotel and Ladies night at Finbar’s hotel , it looks like this collection came out about fifteen years ago and had a collection of the best of Irish writing at the time names such as Colm Tobin and jenifer Johnston both of which seem to be favourites of Kim over at reading matters who actually reviewed a book by Tobin today .

what are your first book buys of 2015 ?

Trevor for booker

I ve long been a fan of the Irish writer William Trevor ,for those of you not familiar with him he is often called the irish Chekov ,Tim Adams of the observer said of him “widely believed to be the most astute observer of the human condition currently writing fiction .He has long been a booker bridesmaid with five nominations one long list in 2009 and four shortlists 1970 (Mrs Eckdorf in O’Neils hotel ),1976(The children of Dynemouth) ,1991(Reading Turgenev) ,2002(The story of Lucy Gault ).So rather than the Booker prize do what they did with the other booker bridesmaid Beryl Bainbridge and have a prize after she died why not honour the man whilst he is here I feel after the fuss this years prize caused say oh well we’ll stop for a year give it to William as a special one-off price for 2012 for the body of his work ,I would imagine many readers would be disappointed with this choice also it would honour William’s contribution to modern English literature he is a writer that has mixed Chekov, Maupassant short story talent with a touch of Irish tradition from Joyce and O’Connor with the English literature of Maugham and Greene .I love the booker I felt I gave the wrong impression last week it has led me to many good books ,my problem was with this year and recent years that I felt let down with the prize that has been dear to me .But never wanted to lessen the prize and I don’t think readability is dumbing down it is up to each of us what is readable .I felt near the prize being given some people went a little over the top with the vileness of the opinions and also the puppets that think these people are a sort of demi god of English literature !Any way if you think this is a good idea please write a post maybe if enough of us little people shout loud we can make the Horton’s of this world listen !!!! Please support this William Trevor is a writer that touches the soul !!

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