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Anyone read Barbed Wire by Máirtín ó Cadhain?
Posted: 20 July 2015 12:00 AM   Ignore ]  
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I have read about 10 different books of various levels in Irish.  The hardest so far was Aistear by Diarmaid ó Suilleabháin.  Ó Cadhain’s reputation precedes him and I have now been trying to get through this posthumous work of his.  This is without a doubt the most challenging book I have ever read in my life and I must say I’m a bit frustrated that I feel like all my experience with Irish has not prepared me for this.  There are some pages where I feel like I have very little idea what he’s even saying. 


I am very curious to see if anyone, especially a native speaker, has read this book and what their experience was like.  It is a true test not only of one’s Irish but one’s knowledge of literature of various other languages and social references all woven together, not to mention that there are probably about a dozen or so invented words per page (that’s not an exaggeration).  In the introduction by Cathal ó Háinle, he discusses the difficulties Ó Cadhain encountered with this work - that his colleagues did not appreciate his scathing satire and the criticism directed at specific figures in the Irish community, and that most critics did not seem to understand its importance.  He was very bitter about its reception in its pre-published form. 


I know that Ó Cadhain felt that his culture and language were dying.  I also know he spent some time in internment where he read a lot of different kinds of literature from different countries.  I also know that he viewed this book as his masterpiece.  I can’t help but wonder whether this book was his way of challenging the speakers of his own language; that this might be seen even among many native speakers as the ravings of a madman.  With every other Irish book I’ve read, some of which were quite challenging, I still was able to make sense of it in the end - I knew that the barrier to understanding was my own limitations and that there was a visible sense there, I just had to find it.  With this book, the sense feels so occluded by the strange use of print, esoteric word formation, literary and historical references and stream-of-consciousness thought.  After reading the introduction, I sympathized with Ó Cadhain and his struggles to gain appreciation for this work.  After struggling to make it halfway the first (and shortest) of four sections, I almost sympathize more with those attempting to critique it. 


To get an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s an example from the first “story”, wherein he talks about mustaches, who should and should not have one, and various specific people and categories of people he imagines with mustaches:


“Ach ní foláir a dhul ar aghaidh leis na tótam-chroiméil.  An Státseirbhís:  cupán 10, 11, 3, 4, 5.  Iaroifigigh airm:  garáiste nó pumpa petrol.  Iarghardaí nó Gardaí:  cuntar ar leataobh den liopa:  SÍOPmhaoirseacht ar an leataobh eile.  Casúr ceantálaí ar iarmhúinteoirí.  Lucht ollscoile:  croiméal i gcruth na bhfocal +Joannes Carolus.  Gaeltarra:  tá sé acu cheana ar a gcuid clúdaigh agus páipéar, séadchomhartha phallac agus clogadtent air.  Gael-Linn:  bod gorm a gabh(al)adh sa Sunda Salach idir an dá Árainn (amhras faoi bhundún an fhocail, ach déarfadh formhór na dteangeolaithe faoi seo go bhfuil sé gaolmhar le Dhá Fhiréin nó Dhá Rein) le croim(éal)duán ar corraduanóg agus cuisníodh ag an Más, nó mar a deir na sean-bhonndúirí ‘Leathmhás Chró an Chaoláin san Alefin Mórach.’  Is ainm é sin ón tráth a raibh na foulaithe Ailgéarach lonnaithe ar chladaí Charna:  rud is nu(d)g(g)et do Rex-scéal - ‘An Foghlaí Ara(nn)ballach’:  de réir Phokorny, ní ó na Croiméallinnigh a shíolraigh na hÁrannaigh - nó mar atá orthu mar a dhearbhaigh sé ina dhiaidh sin ó ÉISCUISNEIMIGH a chonaic Colmcillumbus ann ar a aistear go Meiriceá:  chonaic sé na mestizos, na muisteaiseacha seo, sa Sunda Salach.  Tá a fhios gur gorm atá na héiscuisneamaigh, agus mar sin is tótam-chroiméal peiliúnach do Théilinn nó Phael-Linn an gormach nó an ballach ar breac cloiche é chomh maith leis an ngormliomach nó an Chráifisc (Languecouistlle dépourvu de … sa bhFraincis, teanga na Coumhargaíocht);  go deimhin is breac ábhaigh, nó mar a deir na hógbhonndúirí, breac poll faoi chloch é an Languecouistlle.  Is dóigh nuair a thiocfas gealach na gcroimlíní go ndéanfaidh Ailgéir úd Iorras Aithneach Sibéir gheal.  Tá an croiméalduán nó an tuisteamatós nó an parenthesis seo rófhada agus ‘an-scaoilte chun mórán maitheasa a dhéanamh’, mar a déarfadh Riobard ó Glaisne.”

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Posted: 24 July 2015 07:13 AM   Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Comhalta
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Go raibh maith agat as an sliocht sin a roinnt linn, a Héilics! Is beag duine, foghlaimeoir nó cainteoir dúchais, a thuigfeadh a leithéid, sílim. Ní leor Gaeilge mhaith a bheith agat, seachas caithfidh eolas a bheith agat ar na canúintí, stair na hÉireann, scríbhinní na dteangeolaithe agus an dream uilig, an gceantar inar rugadh agus tógadh an t-údar agus, seans, aithne a bheith agat ar Mháirtín féin. smile Déarfainn go bhfuil sé i bhfad níos éasca ciall a bhaint as a chuid scríbhinní eile, go háirithe an leabhar is mó-le-rá leis, Cré na Cille. Bíonn na gearrscéalta rud beag níos casta, ach is féidir an ceann is fearr a fháil orthu chomh maith agus tú ag cuartú na focla nua sa bhfoclóir. Pé scéal é, comhghairdeas leat má dhéanann tú Barbed Wire a chríochnú!

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Posted: 25 July 2015 05:03 AM   Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Comhalta
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Go raibh maith agat as an sliocht sin a roinnt linn, a Héilics! Is beag duine, foghlaimeoir nó cainteoir dúchais, a thuigfeadh a leithéid, sílim. Ní leor Gaeilge mhaith a bheith agat, seachas caithfidh eolas a bheith agat ar na canúintí, stair na hÉireann, scríbhinní na dteangeolaithe agus an dream uilig, an gceantar inar rugadh agus tógadh an t-údar agus, seans, aithne a bheith agat ar Mháirtín féin.

Is dóigh gur fíor duit an méid sin.  Is iad na tagairtí iomadúla nach bhfuil aithne agam ar chor ar bith orthu atá an phríomhdheacracht dom maidir leis an téacs seo.  Níl a fhios agam cén fáth ar roghnaigh mé an leabhar seo i leaba Cré na Cille (a bhfuil, mar a dúirt tú, níos mó cáile air) wink  Tá mé ag ceapadh anois gur dul amú a bhí orm.

Pé scéal é, comhghairdeas leat má dhéanann tú Barbed Wire a chríochnú!

Ar an drochuair, caithfidh mé a rá gur thug mé suas leis ar feadh tamaill.  B’fhéidir lá breá eicint, agus a thuilleadh líofachta nó léinn agam, tabharfaidh mé faoi arís.  Thosaigh mé ag léamh “Smaointe, le Blaise Pascal” aistrithe go Gaeilge ina áit.  wink  É féin cineál dúshlánach, ach níl mé ag streachailt leis ó fhocal go focal.  Cúpla focal ar an leathanach, ar an meán.

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