The crock of gold ; a fairy tale

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Early in the book, the philosoph This is a very, very strange book. Early in the book, the philosopher's brother and his wife elect to kill themselves by magic. Slightly later, the god Pan comes to Ireland and disturbs the dreams of a young girl. She runs off with Pan, and her desperate father consults the surviving philosopher, whose advice causes contention with the Leprechauns--whom the children have meantime befriended. And on we go-- If this sounds wacky, it is!

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It's also really, really clever. Stephens does tie it together in the end, and you realize that this book hasn't, at all, been what you thought it was. It's really philosophy--theology, even--disguised as a light-hearted fairy tale cum murder mystery.

The philosopher who is the main character is, to me at least, quite irritating at first. But he grew on me! Here is the puzzled neighbor coming to the house: "God and Mary be with you, Ma'am.. I am in great trouble this day. Dogs and cats do not employ these extraordinary mercenaries yet their polity is progressive and orderly. Crows are a gregarious race with settled habitations and an organized commonwealth If policemen were necessary to a civilization crows would certainly have evolved them, but I triumphantly insist that they have not got any policemen in their rebublic--" page These quotes should give you some idea of the tone!

In short, this book is a bit much, but it's also more than a bit brilliant. Not sure how often I'd return to it, but I can see why it might be considered a classic.

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James Stephens's obscure fantasy novel The Crock of Gold begins as a straightforwardly goofy battle-of-the-sexes comedy about two obtuse philosopher brothers and their argumentative wives but quickly blossoms into something else, something convoluted, endlessly strange and magical in the most genuine way. Fair folk, police, and a robin redbreast are just some of the characters jostling for space in this relatively short volume. There's a murder trial, a fairy war, a love triangle involving two g James Stephens's obscure fantasy novel The Crock of Gold begins as a straightforwardly goofy battle-of-the-sexes comedy about two obtuse philosopher brothers and their argumentative wives but quickly blossoms into something else, something convoluted, endlessly strange and magical in the most genuine way.

There's a murder trial, a fairy war, a love triangle involving two gods and a shepherdess, and a lot of stirabout. It's an endlessly surprising, often absurd book — the image of a leprechaun questioned by the police is a fitting cover — but the story is no frivolous romp. Stephens's wit is always tempered with wistfulness, and his comic fantasy has a melancholy subtext. A fairy being arrested by the police is not just an an entertainingly bizarre image but a symbol of the violence of the collision of modern and myth in Stephens's Ireland, of the spiritual aridity of twentieth century life.

Along with the many Irish mythological and folkloric characters depicted in The Crock of Gold , Stephens includes an outsider, a visitor from classical Greece. This visitor is Pan, god of shepherds, a goat from the waist down.

Pan's reasons for coming to Ireland are never alluded to, but Stephens's reasons for using him in the novel speak for themselves. Goat legs are an inescapable symbol of the human race's primal origin and nature. As Pan himself puts it: Man is a god and a brute. He aspires to the stars with his head, but his feet are contented with the grasses of the field, and when he forsakes the brute upon which he stands then there will be no more men and women and the immortal gods will blow this world away like smoke.

Stephens finds true beauty in the bizarre. To paraphrase Derek Mahon, The Crock of Gold is a book about the sublime that lurks at the heart of the ridiculous. It's a book that deserves far more readers. Mar 27, William Korn rated it it was amazing Shelves: fantasy. This has got to be the most delightful, warm, funny, and philosophical Irish fairy tale ever written. It concerns two Philosophers, their wives women of the Sidhe, or "Shee" , their children, and how their affairs become intertwined with a band of Leprechauns.

The conflict grows and spreads until the the "real" Ireland of the early 20th century is pitted against all of Faerie. To add to the joyous confusion a foreign God invades the Irish uplands, contending with the a Great One of Faerie, Angu This has got to be the most delightful, warm, funny, and philosophical Irish fairy tale ever written. To add to the joyous confusion a foreign God invades the Irish uplands, contending with the a Great One of Faerie, Angus Og, for the love of "the most beautiful girl in the world".

In its turn this tale covers the battle of the sexes, honor, avariciousness, the true meaning of wisdom, the relative importance of intellect and emotion, determination, and the conflict between the works of man and those of nature -- all in a mere pages. This book is written in such flowing meter that it ought not be read silently, but aloud.

Parts of it could easily be sung. It would be helpful, however, for the speaker to be familiar with Gaelic so names of personages and places can be recited without embarrassment. Mar 23, Katie rated it really liked it. Great descriptions and funny characters. Confusing ending. This is a golden oldie: a mad experimental novel that blends fantasy and social commentary. James Stephens, a central figure in the Irish Literary Revival, created a realm of philosophers and leprechauns and mythical creatures.

Creatures in different stages of bewilderment and enlightenment abound.

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Nature is magical and animals and humankind are not quite created equal. An intriguing blend of Irish folklore, philosophy and poetic thoughts, this novel was a very interesting read. On the one hand, I was very taken by it's atmosphere and the straightforward whimsy of the characters and their issues. I am not very familiar with Irish folklore and I wonder if that would have helped me appreciate this story better, as I did find it a little too leisurely in pace, and sometimes the characters seemed unsympathetically ridiculous.

Although the writing is beautiful it is An intriguing blend of Irish folklore, philosophy and poetic thoughts, this novel was a very interesting read. Although the writing is beautiful it is very specific in it's lyrical power, and I was not always as appreciative of the digressions at the expense of plot, even when I recognized that this was a very artistic decision.

I picked up this story to read because I read once that it was Gene Kelly's favorite book, and because of that I was very interested in finishing the novel. It is definitely unique, and if you have any interest in Irish folklore, I think this will be a great read for you.

James Stephens was an Irish writer. He knew and worked with James Joyce. The story is based on Irish mythology. The world is populated with Leprechauns, ordinary people, fairies, gods, and other beings that fall somewhere in or near those populations. It would probably help if I knew more of the mythology.

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The prose is very dense and highly poetic. The story is about two philosophers, their wives, and children. Leprechauns lose their pot of gold to a farmer who buries under a shrub that Leprechau James Stephens was an Irish writer. Leprechauns lose their pot of gold to a farmer who buries under a shrub that Leprechauns only a human can't get under to dig it up. One philosopher takes a long journey. On the face of it, it's a fairytale. It's fairytale shaped, it's quite simply written, it has fairies in it fairies are always a giveaway don't you think?

There are talking animals as well, but they don't talk to people, so that's OK. It's a fairytale. And it's very Irish. Leprecauns and old Irish gods abound, interacting lightly with the early twentieth century. But you should never trust a poet; they'll say three different things with the same sentence, so it also has a crack at being mythic and allegorical, at being lightly philosophical, at marking a distinction between the mental processes of the two sexes, of being a call to arms for the rural idyll that is simultaneously, unless I miss my mark, a call for Irish nationalism It's a complicated thing, this simple little story, and it succeeds in its ambitions.

It's also pleasingly comic, if a bit folksy in places, and a touch over-lyrical in others. So: many thanks to Wreade should you chance to read this - I enjoyed it very much. Mar 01, Kenneth Shersley rated it liked it. A remarkable book, but commentators who wonder why it's not better known shouldn't be too surprised; beautifully written though it is, it's a book of Celtic metaphysics - and if you're not in the mood for leprachauns and gnomic utterances regardless of what truth you might find in them , you won't enjoy it.

I enjoyed it enormously until, somewhere round about p, it lost me. I suddenly lost the will to puzzle out the meaning of passages such as: "The name of male Thought as it faces the world A remarkable book, but commentators who wonder why it's not better known shouldn't be too surprised; beautifully written though it is, it's a book of Celtic metaphysics - and if you're not in the mood for leprachauns and gnomic utterances regardless of what truth you might find in them , you won't enjoy it. I suddenly lost the will to puzzle out the meaning of passages such as: "The name of male Thought as it faces the world is Philosophy, but the name it bears in Tir-nanog is Delusion.

Female Thought is called Socialism on earth, but in Eternity it is known as Illusion; and this is so because there has been no matrimony of minds, but only an hermaphroditic propagation of automatic ideas, which in their due rotation assume dominance and reign severely. To the world this system of thought, because it is consecutive, is known as Logic, but Eternity has written it down in the Book or [sic] Errors as Mechanism; for life may not be consecutive, but explosive and variable, else it is a shackled and timorous slave.

Can I see a meaning in it? Er, not sure. I'm afraid I bailed at about p I saw beauty and wisdom, but didn't have time understand what much of it meant - if anything. Philosophical story featuring leprechauns, policemen and the Great God Pan. Funny, occasionally depressing and very thoughtful. The leprechaun story elements seem a little confused and some of the descriptive or philosophical passages can be a bit long.


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Feb 24, Red Fox added it. What a great imaginative tale; funny and absurd. I wish I'd had this book as a child but I am glad that it found its way to my life at last. I will read this book again at a later time, in a few years when my focus is better and I can follow the long twisty philosophical pontificating of the various characters and the narrator.

It won't be hard, because the book is relatively short and feels like sitting down and listening to an elderly Irish man spin a yarn. I picked up the book after learning that song-and-dance man Gene Kelly liked to return to this book from time t "a silence that was only skin deep" That's such a beautiful phrase.

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I picked up the book after learning that song-and-dance man Gene Kelly liked to return to this book from time to time "simply because it delights me, and in this troubled world, gives me surcease and balm for my woes. Well, the world is still the world, and my problems haven't gone away, but this book was like a fresh dose of perspective. A reminder of all that is good and and joyous and hopeful in the world.

The last page or two, in particular, were beautiful.