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On an Irish Island: The Lost World of the Great Blasket (Vintage)

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On an Irish Island: The Lost World of the Great Blasket (Vintage) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

On an Irish Island is a love letter to a vanished way of life, in which Robert Kanigel, the highly praised author of The Man Who Knew Infinity and The One Best Way, tells the story of the Great Blasket, a wildly beautiful island off the west coast of Ireland, renowned during the early twentieth century for the rich communal life of its residents and the unadulterated Irish they spoke. With the Irish language vanishing all through the rest of Ireland, the Great Blasket became a magnet for scholars and writers drawn there during the Gaelic renaissance—and the scene for a memorable clash of cultures between modern life and an older, sometimes sweeter world slipping away.

 

Kanigel introduces us to the playwright John Millington Synge, some of whose characters in The Playboy of the Western World, were inspired by his time on the island; Carl Marstrander, a Norwegian linguist who gave his place on Norway’s Olympic team for a summer on the Blasket; Marie-Louise Sjoestedt, a Celtic studies scholar fresh from the Sorbonne; and central to the story, George Thomson, a British classicist whose involvement with the island and its people we follow from his first visit as a twenty-year-old to the end of his life.

 

On the island, they met a colorful coterie of men and women with whom they formed lifelong and life-changing friendships. There’s Tomás O’Crohan, a stoic fisherman, one of the few islanders who could read and write Irish, who tutored many of the incomers in the language’s formidable intricacies and became the Blasket’s first published writer; Maurice O’Sullivan, a good-natured prankster and teller of stories, whose memoir, Twenty Years A-Growing, became an Irish classic; and Peig Sayers, whose endless repertoire of earthy tales left listeners spellbound.

 

As we get to know these men and women, we become immersed in the vivid culture of the islanders, their hard lives of fishing and farming matched by their love of singing, dancing, and talk. Yet, sadly, we watch them leave the island, the village becoming uninhabited by 1953. The story of the Great Blasket is one of struggle—between the call of modernity and the tug of Ireland’s ancient ways, between the promise of emigration and the peculiar warmth of island life amid its physical isolation. But ultimately it is a tribute to the strength and beauty of a people who, tucked away from the rest of civilization, kept alive a nation’s past, and to the newcomers and islanders alike who brought the island’s remarkable story to the larger world.

Synopsis:

On an Irish Island tells the remarkable story of a remote outpost nearly untouched by time in the first half of the twentieth century, and of the adventurous men and women who visited and were inspired by it.

In a love letter to a vanished way of life, Robert Kanigel brings to life this wildly beautiful island, notable for the vivid communal life of its residents and the unadulterated Irish they spoke well into the twentieth century. With the Irish language rapidly disappearing, Great Blasket became a magnet for scholars, linguists, and writers during the Gaelic renaissance. As we follow these visitors—among them John Millington Synge, author of The Playboy of the Western World—we are captivated both by the tiny group of islanders who kept an entire country’s past alive and by their complex relationships with those who brought the island’s story to the larger world.

About the Author

ROBERT KANIGEL is the author of six previous books. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Grady-Stack Award for science writing. His book The Man Who Knew Infinity was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Harvard Magazine, and Psychology Today. He has just retired as Professor of Science Writing at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and now lives in Baltimore.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307389879
Author:
Kanigel, Robert
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Subject:
World History-Ireland
Subject:
Ireland
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage
Publication Date:
20130231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
26 ILLUSTRATIONS
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
7.9 x 5.1 x 0.66 in 0.75 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » Europe » Ireland » General
History and Social Science » World History » England » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Ireland

On an Irish Island: The Lost World of the Great Blasket (Vintage) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages Vintage Books - English 9780307389879 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , On an Irish Island tells the remarkable story of a remote outpost nearly untouched by time in the first half of the twentieth century, and of the adventurous men and women who visited and were inspired by it.

In a love letter to a vanished way of life, Robert Kanigel brings to life this wildly beautiful island, notable for the vivid communal life of its residents and the unadulterated Irish they spoke well into the twentieth century. With the Irish language rapidly disappearing, Great Blasket became a magnet for scholars, linguists, and writers during the Gaelic renaissance. As we follow these visitors—among them John Millington Synge, author of The Playboy of the Western World—we are captivated both by the tiny group of islanders who kept an entire country’s past alive and by their complex relationships with those who brought the island’s story to the larger world.

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