Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, March 24, 2012

William Carleton: "Frank Martin and The Fairies

"Frank Martin and the Fairies" by  William  Carleton  (1845, 12 pages)

"Come away! O, human child!  To the woods and waters wild.  With a Fairy hand in hand, for the world is more full of weeping than you can understand".  from "The Stolen Child" by William Butler Yeats

March 23 to March 29
Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasants

Much of the history and culture of Ireland can be learned from reading the extensive oeuvre of William Carleton.  There is no better place to explore this than in the William Carleton Summer School of the William Carleton Society of given every August since 1992 by the William Carleton Society.  Here is the description of the school from their very informative web page

The annual William Carleton Summer School, one of Ireland’s most significant literary festivals, has since 1992 celebrated the life and writings of the novelist William Carleton, 1794-1869. The School is held from the first Monday in August until the Friday of the same week in Carleton’s own district, the Clogher Valley in Co Tyrone. In addition to the main programme of lectures and debates, the School offers  bus tours of places that have Carleton associations, in neighbouring counties. The tours are led by well known local historians and Carleton scholars, and evening entertainments include drama performances, traditional and classical music and storytelling.

I hope to be there in August  2013.

Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week Year Two, March 12 to April 11 (yes long week).   All you need do is post on one short story by an Irish author and send me a comment or an email and I will include it in the master post at the end of the challenge.  

Irish Short Story Week Year Two was scheduled for March 12 to March 22.   I an finding such a richness of material that I have decided to add on a kind of bonus week focused on short stories that deal directly with the folk and fairy tales of old Ireland.   This decision was prompted by my reading of some of the works in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasants by William Butler Yeats.   There are stories about changelings, ghosts, witches, giants, the devil, legendary Kings and Queens from the very old days, and lots of fairy stories.   There is also, of course, a wonderful story about a leprechaun that makes shoes for fairies.   There are stories by William Carleton, Oscar Wilde's mother, and lots  of  authors I have never heard of but whom Yeats says are great writers.   I will be posting on a story or two a day from this collection.   You can download it as I did from Manybooks.

I hope you will join us.  All you have to do if you want to participate is to do a post on a Short Story by an Irish  author and either leave me a comment with a link to it or send me the post data by e mail.  I will announce the posts and will also do, as I did last year, a master post spotlighting the participating blogs.   Last year posts were done by book bloggers from all over the world on a total of sixty short stories.

"Oh Rory, I guess as there will be a story
about you this week":-Carmilla
From March 23 to March 29, I will be posting on short stories taken from William Butler Yeats's collection Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasants (1922).   As I mentioned in my post of yesterday, Yeats was deeply involved in Irish Folk tales and beliefs.   It is not far off, I think, to think that these folk ways were in many cases viewed almost as an alternative religion or a set of older beliefs that exists side by side with Christianity.  William Carleton (1794 to 1869, Dublin) on whom I posted on March 12 for his brilliant short story, "Home Sickness" has two stories about fairies included in the collection.   Carleton mostly writers about life in Ireland either in the 1840s just before the famines or about the famines times.  I am currently reading his novel The Black Prophet:  A Tale of the Irish Famines.   Yeats, he has his issues socially, refers to Carleton as a "Peasant" in his remarks on him and I guess in Yeats very patrician mind this may give Carelton some extra authority.

I will be keeping my posts short this week as all of the stories in the collection are short?

"Frank Martin and the Fairies" deals with an interesting question.   What did  most people really think of people who completely believed in Fairies and their worlds, people who saw Fairies and talked to them on a regular basis?   What forces might drive someone to think he was surrounded by fairies only he could see?

A belief in Fairies was not a cute diversion or a source of fun to everyone, many believed this world was very real.   It would be easy to explain it as pure escapism brought on by the  history of Ireland in a times when there were no  medical treatments mandated for those who saw themselves as living among invisible to all but them characters.   Walk into a modern emergency room and tell them you are being accompanied by a troop of twenty invisible fairies, talk and argue with them as if they are very real  and see what happens.

Frank Martin was "as sensible, sober and rational as any other man;  but on the subject of Fairies the man's mania was particularly strong and immovable.   Indeed, I remember that the expression of his eyes was singularly wild and hollow, and his long narrow temples sallow and emaciated".
"Leprechauns are NOT  fairies,
keep you remarks to yourself,

Frank had a wonderful relationship with the fairies.   He  would conduct long conversations with them, laughing hilariously at times, they even slept in his bed with him.   When people would come into his weaving shop they would ask him how the fairies were and he would say, "There are a dozen in the shop now".  People just accepted this and did not seem to see him as crazy at all.      Now Fairies if you make them mad can be dangerous but when Frank was baptized the priest gave him a special baptism that protected him from Fairies.   (Irish Fairies were not like Tinker Bell, often stole children and adult.   They also put curses on those who disrespected them.)

This is a very well done story that lets us see from the inside what it might have been like to live in Ireland in the 19th century and be a strong believer in Fairies.

Mel u

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