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Irish Fairy Tales von James Stephens
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Irish Fairy Tales (2012. Auflage)

von James Stephens (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
607930,563 (3.96)5
A collection of ten traditional tales of Irish heroes, kings, soldiers, magicians, poets, and madmen.
Mitglied:beccirah
Titel:Irish Fairy Tales
Autoren:James Stephens (Autor)
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012), 136 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
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Irish Fairy Tales von James Stephens

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We've managed in the space of three volumes to run the available gamut of titles for books of tales of Irish fairies and come full circle, as it were. These aren't even the sort of fairy tales I was looking for, being mostly about Finn and the Fianna, but actually, there's a good deal of fairy stuff in here, so I think it was worthwhile from that point of view.

So it opens with the story of a man here since the first people came to Ireland after the flood and follows on down through mythical settlements and invasions, with the man transforming into a beast at each juncture and enjoying a long exuberant life as king of that species, until finally he becomes king of the salmon, gets caught by a fisherman of the King of Ulster, is eaten by the queen and born to her as a son. There's a lovely giddy logic to it.

Next comes the Boyhood of Fionn, a justly praised literary masterpiece, gorgeously lyrical, and I began to question why this wasn't part of a work with the stature of something like The Once And Future King. It's a work for grown-ups, maybe, more so at least than The Sword In The Stone, but it has flashes of rare wit here and there and is extremely readable. The Irish, however, have a complicated relationship with our mythical heroes. Like leprechauns they're to be pitied for the way in which they have become embarrassing cliches and caricatures, and of course the inevitable association of a glorious warriors past doesn't help, but neither does the humiliation of hundreds of years of defeat and foreign rule. There's that speech in Trainspotting about what is there to be proud of in being Scottish. Most Irish people internalised that lesson long ago.

Nonetheless, there is something here that surely transcends national ambivalence, something that surely should be part of the canon of fantasy literature. Except this is not a novel, despite containing the start to a great novel within it. Once Fionn becomes leader, his nature changes, the stories become episodic, Fionn is sidelined or barely present, and often powerless and even humiliated. The final story doesn't mention him at all, and one assumes it isn't a Fionn story until a line at the end which is the sort of cheat no 20th century audience would put up with for a moment.

No doubt someone has written a novel about Fionn - I remember Rosemary Sutcliffe's book fondly - but it's an awful pity James Stephens didn't because it would have been definitive and influential. Though it should be noted that there appear to be issues with women that are hard to parse. Most of the major female roles are negative, and it's hard to say whether it's because of the source material or the author, or even at times the author poking fun at the misogyny of the source material, though by the end he seems to embrace it fully. On the other hand, the relationship between Fionn and Goll mor mac Morna is an amazing one, uniquely Irish I would have thought.

A rich book, product of the great Anglo Irish Celtic Revival, it's just a pity he decided to let the fragmentary nature of the ancient oral tradition dictate the form, leaving us with yet another book of tales, rather than a brilliant novel. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Retellings of Irish folktales by James Stephens, best known for writing The Crock of Gold, which I read hen perhaps too young because my father liked and quoted it. I believe this book was one of several I got as texts for an honors class in Celtic and Germanic Folklore at Bowling Green State University circa 1968 -1969. ( )
  antiquary | Jan 18, 2014 |
My copy is called "Irish Fairy Tales" but it has the same content and the Arthur Rackham illustrations. I suspect that James Stephens never retold an Irish legend without making it fascinating and splendid. ( )
  themulhern | Oct 26, 2013 |
The Myths and Magic of Old Ireland, these stories are classic Irish folk tales which weave in and out of Faery and our world, with heroes such as Fionn mac Uail, lord of the Fianna. These are almost like reading poems, they have a rhythm and a cadence to them which becomes mesmerizing, especially when characters are speaking. I found it hard going at first, but after the first few stories, my interest was drawn and by the end of the book, I couldn't put it down. There is subtle humor in the dialog. At times, it felt as though I were reading the history of the Nac Mac Feegle from Discworld. I am a lover and collector of books with Arthur Rackham illustrations, so that is what drew me to this, but Fall River Press has made a lovely book in total, with a fine feel to the cloth cover, thick pages made to look like vellum and a design of print which feels as if you have found an ancient book written by monks. ( )
  MrsLee | Apr 10, 2013 |
"Irish Fairy Tales" is a set of ten stories drawn from the Fenian Cycle of Irish legend, occurring around the time when Christianity was introduced to the island. The stories are set in a forested land filled with lager-than-life hunters, warriors, kings, and faeries. Faeries are important in perhaps half of these stories, which provide a look at some source material for modern works which develop Pagan mythology, like White Wolf's two "Changeling" RPGs or Emma Bull's "War for the Oaks." The stories in Stephens' book are retellings of legends which were passed down via oral tradition. Many have silly, ridiculous, or immature plots, and sometimes characters' personalities shift weirdly between stories or between parts of the same story, betraying the stories' origins as folktales created by many authors of varying skill. Alone, the stories would only earn about 2 stars. Taken as a whole, the book is better than any of the stories it contains, for the general impression of the setting and times you gain by reading the entire collection. I find myself more interested in Ireland now than I was before reading this book. That's worth a third star. ( )
  jrissman | Nov 4, 2012 |

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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
James StephensHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Rackham, ArthurIllustratorCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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A collection of ten traditional tales of Irish heroes, kings, soldiers, magicians, poets, and madmen.

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