An internet scrapbook with a shuffle button. (They're the best things...!!)
This tumblr blog is licensed under Creative Commons
Mrs Winterson continued to have an effect on life choices far removed from her own experience: ‘She hated the small and the mean, and yet that is all she had. I bought a few big houses myself along the way, simply because I was trying out something for her. In fact, my tastes are more modest – but you don’t know that until you have bought and sold for the ghost of your mother.’
Rather tough essay-review on Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? This quote happens to be something I rather sympathise with, even consider it to be something my own family members do.
Sure, Winterson may be a bit larger than life, but some of her experiences are not that unusual, surely. Mars-Jones’ essay is perceptive, but borders on harsh for the most part.
Adam Mars-Jones, LRB 26.
Of all these famous visitors to the Island, however, it was Brian Ó Ceallaigh from Killarney who reaped the greatest harvest there. “An Seabhac” (Pádraig Ó Siochfhradha) urged him to go there to improve his Irish, and gave him a letter of introduction to Tomás Ó Criomhthain. That was in 1917, and it did not take him long to discover the spark in Tomás, and in order to spur him to action he read some of Pierre Loti’s and Maxim Gorky’s work to him, as if to suggest that if their sort could write great literature about the simple lives of fishermen and peasants, surely Tomás could do likewise. That was how Tomás’s diary Allagar na hInise and his autobiography An tOileánach (The Islandman) came to be written within the space of 10 years.
The first to put pen to paper was Tomás Ó Criomhthain. The Blasket books generated controversy and debate on the Island. Writers were accused of misrepresentation – “that is not how it happened”; “all lies and invention”. Much of this criticism was inspired by envy. Behold, however, the result of their collective efforts up to and including our own time. Other less important books were written by Tomás and Peig, and by two of their sons, Seán Ó Criomhthain and Mícheál Ó Gaoithín (Maidhc File). Since then other books have been written by islanders – Seán Sheáin Í Chearnaigh, Máire Ní Ghuithín, Seán Faeilí Ó Catháin, and Seán Pheats Tom Ó Cearnaigh. They are all draining the last drop with melancholic longing for the past, while the Island where they were born and reared is now home to one-night strangers and stragglers – gulls and ravens – who merely pick the bones.
These are the last two paragraphs in an engrossing selection from a booklet written by Irish writer Pádraig Ua Maoileoin. It appears, with attribution, on a Dingle tourism webpage with information on the Blaskets, a group of islands I’ve been interested in since reading Twenty Years A-Growing (in my twenties. Snap).
I am intrigued by the visiting scholar’s introduction of Loti and Gorky to the Blasket writer. The whole extract is delightful, as is this earlier webpage on island life. I was kind of hoping that a youth hostel on one of the islands was still in action, but this site would suggest otherwise: now, it’s day trips only. Sigh.