Three Scottish Gaelic Classics
An tuil11111
On this page, read about three seminal books in Scottish Gaelic: An t-Aonarán, An Tuil and Reothairt is Contraigh.

1. An t-Aonaran
An t-Aonaran Iain Mac a' Ghobhainn (
Scottish University Press (1976, 1991

Iain Mac a' Ghobhainn/Iain Crichton Smith published poetry, short stories and novels in Gaelic and in English. An t-Aonaran was first published in 1976. An English-language version by the author, differing slightly, appeared in The Hermit and other stories a year later.

An t-Aonaran can be read alongside other European novels of the outsider, but stands in marked contrast to them, partly by virtue of its simplicity. The 'loner' comes to live at the edge of an island village, but chooses not to engage with the community. Nowhere in the book is there reference to the man's ennui or nausée. However, his presence is the cause of much repercussion. The tale is narrated by a retired and widowed schoolteacher. Initially, the narrator is accepting of the stranger, and dismissive of his fellow islanders' antipathy. However, a sequence of events results in a reversal of opinions, the consequence of a re-evaluation which the outsider's presence causes each character to undertake. With great skill, economy of language, and through the subtle use of symbolism, the author poses questions including one most fundamental: who is the eponymous 'loner' or 'hermit'? Is it the stranger, a recent arrival in the village, or the insider through whose mind the story is told? In a short novella of many reversals, the ennui of the 'insider' may ultimately be the point of the story of the outsider. The arrival of the stranger has caused the balance between individual personality and (religiously) conforming community to enter into a new dynamic, and the retired schoolteacher's telling of the tale suggests it to be essentially a reflection of his own of mind.

2. An Tuil
An Tuil (ed. Ronald Black)
Polygon (1999)
ISBN 0 7486 6219 7

An Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse with original texts and translations.

For the first time, a full canon of twentieth-century Scottish Gaelic verse is available in one handsome volume. An Tuil is a unique bilingual anthology providing a much-needed and impressive overview of the high achievement and dramatic development of Gaelic verse in the twentieth century. One hundred Gaelic poets of the century are represented through over 350 poems, including the work of Dômhnall Ruadh Chorúna, Donald Macintyre, Sorley MacLean, George Campbell Hay, Derick Thomson, lain Crichton Smith and Donald John MacDonald. The poetry deals with a range of subjects - comedy and satire, love and war, religion and politics. The chronological listing by poet, and extensive and detailed biographies, amount to a study of the Gaelic experience of the twentieth century. Complete with an informative introduction by Ronald Black, this definitive anthology presents the Gaelic view of the twentieth century and offers a literary perspective radically different from existing collections.

3. Reothairt is Contraigh
Reothairt is Contraigh Sorley MacLean
Canongate (1977)
ISBN 0 903937 16 6

'The most important contribution to Gaelic literature in this or any other century. J. A. Macdonald, Planet.

' as great and moving in its way as Wordsworth's
Prelude.' Cuthbert Graham, Aberdeen Press & Journal.

'The miracle of the poetry is difficult to define. It consists, of course, in mastery of language; but more than that there is a strangeness and eeriness at the heart of some of this poetry which is quite simply beyond most of the practitioners of the art this century.' lain Crichton Smith, Glasgow Herald.

'...enough of the poetry comes through [ translations] to convince even doubters of his genius.' Allan Massie,

'...a fascinating experience: a plunge into a culture remote from our own, into an unforced lyricism and noble directness of utterance.' Martin Seymour-Smith, Financial Times.

(Read New Writing in Scottish Gaelic.)

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