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The Lost Pibroch And other Sheiling Stories [Kindle Edition]

Neil Munro
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

TO the make of a piper go seven years of his own learning and seven generations before. If it is in, it will out, as the Gaelic old-word says; if not, let him take to the net or sword. At the end of his seven years one born to it will stand at the start of knowledge, and leaning a fond ear to the drone, he may have parley with old folks of old affairs. Playing the tune of the "Fairy Harp," he can hear his forefolks, plaided in skins, towsy-headed and terrible, grunting at the oars and snoring in the caves; he has his whittle and club in the "Desperate Battle" (my own tune, my darling!), where the white-haired sea-rovers are on the shore, and a stain's on the edge of the tide; or, trying his art on Laments, he can stand by the cairn of kings, ken the colour of Fingal's hair, and see the moon-glint on the hook of the Druids!
To-day there are but three pipers in the wide world, from the Sound of Sleat to the Wall of France. Who they are, and what their tartan, it is not for one to tell who has no heed for a thousand dirks in his doublet, but they may be known by the lucky ones who hear them. Namely players tickle the chanter and take out but the sound; the three give a tune the charm that I mention—a long thought and a bard's thought, and they bring the notes from the deeps of time, and the tale from the heart of the man who made it.

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Review

"Munro's first collection of short stories, in which we see him trying to find a way of writing in English about the Gaels. He was remarkably successful: the illusion is that you are in fact listening to someone telling you a story in Gaelic, a language which you find, miraculously, that you can understand.... the stories include that classic "The Secret of Heather Ale"" - Petronius, in the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland -- Petronious , in the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland

From the Publisher

"Jaunty Jock and Other Stories" will be published by House of Lochar in early 1999, in a new and annotated edition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 200 KB
  • Print Length: 125 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F8NSBZU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #591,777 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone under the misguided impression that the bagpipes are just noise - or even just music - should read the first two stories in this collection without further ado; and they may join those of us who know better. I've never seen the way land, love, lore and death are bound up together in Gaelic music expressed better in print: you can hear the mountainsides ring with it.

Munro's first published work, this short collection is a world away from the comic stereotypes of Para Handy. Introducing it, Ronnie Renton complains of gloominess and a lack of historical realism; but I think that's missing the point. The stories inhabit the same stark, fatalistic, half-real world as the Highland folktale tradition on which they are based. More aptly, he also says they were `a breakthrough in the representation of the Gael in non-Gaelic literature'. This is true - but then Gaelic never had a literature, as such. The old bards and seannachies were never concerned to `represent' a culture they simply took for granted; and from Culloden until the late twentieth century, it was the Gaels' fate to be chronicled largely by outsiders. This isolated book is the best chance we'll ever have to see the Gaelic world as depicted by one who had grown up within it when, though the heroic age was over, memories of it were still strong - but who had also stepped far enough outside it to see it in perspective.

It was brave of Munro to sprinkle the text so liberally with Gaelic. Few authors would use so much of it even in these enlightened times considering that, to the general reader, it is about as intelligible as written Chinese. Most of the expressions are explained in the thorough notes; but, as ever, the guidance on pronunciation needs to be treated with some caution.

Munro's talent was to take a different course, but this book may just be his most important achievement. If, in the end, it is fantasy, it is at least the fantasy of a Gael.
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