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 30, 2013

"The Awakening" by Daniel Corkery

"The Awakening" by Daniel Corkery  (1917, 17 pages)

 Irish Short Story Month Year III
March 1 to March 31
Daniel Corkery

In 1917 the British Prime Minister Lloyd George announces that England is ready to offer self-government to the parts of Ireland that want it, excluding six northern counties that do not want it.  

Daniel Corkery (1878 to 1964-Cork, Ireland) was a teacher at several schools. At the close of his career he was Professor of English at University College Cork where Frank O'Connor and Sean O'Faolain were among his students.  He was active in the Irish language revival movement.   He was also a playwright, wrote a novel, and some cultural works but he is mostly read now for the short stories he wrote about the lives of people in Cork.   He published several collections of short stories in his life.  Last Year during Irish Short Story Month I posted in his excellent short story, "The Priest".   

"The Awakening" centers on a fishing boat owned by the widow with a son who will soon become the captain of the boat.   The story is a master work in the way it shows the bonds between the men who work the boat, their constrained emotion and by the very clear picture it paints for us of what it was like to work on a fishing boat off the coast of Galway.  The description of the smell of the boiling fish and potatoes on the boat made me hungry.    The captain was the best friend of the owner.  For a long time he has run the boat for his widow and he has always be scrupulously honest with her.    Her son works the boat also and he is to take over as captain at the end of this voyage.   I will quote a bit so you can get the feel for the prose style of Corkery.

"It was very dark. Everything was huge and shapeless. Anchored as she was, tethered besides, clumsy with the weight of dripping fish-spangled net coming in over the gunwale, the nobby was tossed and slapped about with a violence that surprised him; flakes of wet brightness were being flung everywhere from the one lamp bound firmly to the mast. Yet the night was almost windless, the sea apparently sluggish: there must be, he thought, a stiff swell beneath them. What most surprised him, however, was to find himself thinking about it. That evening coming down the harbour, he would not have noticed it."
I read this in  Classic Irish Short Stories edited by Frank O'Connor.  

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