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The Lost Pibroch And other Sheiling Stories Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.