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Twenty years a-growing Unknown Binding – January 1, 1963


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (1963)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006RPOE4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

O'Sullivan here tells the story of his growing up in Great Blasket, a sparse island off Ireland's Atlantic coast with a Gaelic-speaking population. Along with an introduction by E.M. Forster from the original 1933 printing, this edition contains new photos and illustrations by the author.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

O'Sullivan here tells the story of his growing up in Great Blasket, a sparse island off Ireland's Atlantic coast with a Gaelic-speaking population. Along with an introduction by E.M. Forster from the original 1933 printing, this edition contains new photos and illustrations by the author. (Library Journal)

It is a summer island of romantic beauty that he shows us, dwelling always on the colour of the scenery and the bright, wild life... (London Times Literary Supplement)

This natural and beautiful book brings a breath of sea air and a strange music....It is as alive and sparkling as the sea on a summer morning. (The Observer)

A book to buy, to beg, or to borrow. To miss it is to miss something which will leave your adventuring among books incomplete. (Irish Independent)

You cannot possibly fail to enjoy this book, the only book I have ever reviewed which simply had to be praised without reservation... (The Listener) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By NotATameLion on November 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Twenty Years A-Growing by Maurice O'Sullivan is one heck of a "coming of age" story. I'd never even heard of it until a friend of mine told me that he was reading it. I'm sure glad he did. This is a great book!
I've actually read several coming of age stories recently. I didn't plan to...it just kind of occurred that way. Some of them were really good (David Copperfield by Dickens being one of them); but none of them, Copperfield included, spoke to my heart like Twenty Years A-Growing.
Twenty Years A-Growing was translated into English from Gaelic. I personally find this astounding. They (whoever "they" might be) say a book always loses something in translation. Yet Twenty Years absolutely sings in English...the translation is so powerful that the original must truly be a thing of beauty.
It is an autobiographical tale of growing up in the Blasket Islands off the coast of Ireland around the time of the first world war. For me at least, it was a thing of wonder to be able to enter into this world which has since moved on. It is a story told in a wonderfully simple yet almost lyrically beautiful way. Each chapter is a story in itself. The story as a whole slowly ingrains itself upon your heart and mind.
I felt an affinity with Maurice and his friend Thomas. The adventures they find themselves in ring true even as they entertain the reader. Likewise, the character of the grandfather in particular now feels like an old friend to me now. I particularly appreciated some of the wisdom he espouses to Maurice.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Twenty Years A-Growing, or Fiche Bliain ag Fás in its original Irish, is a humorous and well written book about the sometimes hard life at the great western island, An Blascaod Mór, off the cost of Ireland. It tells about the everyday of the islanders in the beginning of the century in a surprisingly modern and lively way. The language of the Island was Irish, and although the Great Blasket is now abandoned, the Irish language still lives on in the mainland parishes in this area. I strongly recommend this book to everyone interested in Ireland, its culture, the Irish language or readerswho just want a fun and good book. I myself have only read the whole of it in its Irish original, but the passes I've read in English shows a well-done translation
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first read this wonderful book when on vacation in County Kerry, Ireland. I was only 13 years old at the time but the book entranced me because of its humour, sensitivity and overwhelming innocence. The author describes the first twenty years of his life growing up on an isolated island (The Great Blasket) off the southwest coast of Ireland .
Life on the island was so very different to that in the rest of Europe. Gaelic (Irish) was the language used by the community with no English used at all. The book was originally published in Irish and then translated into English whilst preserving all the old colloquial expressions (e.g. "your soul to the devil, that's talk in the air, the sun was hot enough to break stones, My love forever Eileen!" etc.). Life on the island was simple in the extreme with the community living on fish they caught themselves and food they grew on their sparse amounts of land. The book is a rich narrative of many stories and events, thoughts and dreams, humor and sadness within the "riotous beauty" that is South Kerry and the Blasket islands.
The writer did not intend for his book to be read by a wider audience than his own people and that is the book's central beauty. Read it if you want to discover a lost world of innocence, ancient tales, fear, bravery, sadness, hilarity and splendid isolation.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
Twenty Years A-Growing is a delightful collection of stories put together to form a novel. It is not great action or plot that draws one to this book. It is the shear joy of the art of the story teller. This book is a fine example of the ancient tradition of story telling. When a "wanderer" visits the author's house, his grandfather says, "he who travels has tales to tell." The stranger is invited to pull up a chair to the fire and help "shorten the night" with his tales. Good stories do not require a TV or a radio, or for that matter, even a book. Good stories only require a good story teller and a good audience. Twenty Years A-Growing is good story telling
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mike Wilson on January 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an extraordinary book, described by the well-know author E.M. Forster as "here is the egg of a seabird - lovely, perfect and laid this very morning".
The author, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, is an Irish-speaking boy growing up on the Great Blasket Island (An Blascaod Mór). He describes his childhood in the twenties on this 100% Irish-speaking island in Co. Kerry. The population of the island never reached 200, and life there was very archaic - resembling the society in Europe thousands of years ago. Nowhere else in Europe did the shear joy of speaking and love of words live on as here, where thousands of pages of folklore has been collected as well. This love of the language is obvious in this vivid book, in which Muiris presents an affectionate, lively and interesting account of a way of life that no longer is.
Despite being published 70 years ago, the book still feels fresh and manages to blend fond memories and humour in an extraordinary way. This is definitely THE book to buy for anyone interested in the Irish way of life.
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