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The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories


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Table of Contents

Introduction The Hour of Death Fionn in Search of his Youth Cromwell and the Friar The Girl and the Sailor The Four-leafed Shamrock and the Cock The Cow that ate the Piper Conal and Donal and Taig Oliver Goldsmith: Adventures of a Strolling Player Maria Edgeworth: The Limerick Gloves William Carleton: The Death of a Devotee Gerald Griffin: The Brown Man Sheridan Le Fanu: Green Tea George Moore: Albert Nobbs Oscar Wilde: The Sphinx without a Secret E.E. Somerville and Martin Ross: Philippa's Fox Hunt Daniel Corkery: The Priest Seumas O'Kelly: The Weaver's Grave James Joyce: The Dead Padraic O Conaire: My Little Black Ass James Stephens: The Triangle Joyce Carey: Bush River Liam O'Flaherty: The Pedlar's Revenge Liam O'Flaherty: The Fanatic Elizabeth Bowen: Her Table Spread Sean O'Faolain: The Faithless Wife Sean O'Faolain: The Sugawn Chair Frank O'Connor: Guests of the Nation Frank O'Connor: The Majesty of the Law Patrick Boyle: Pastorale Mairtan O Cadhain: The Hare-Lip Michael McLaverty: The Poteen Maker Bryan MacMahon: The Ring Mary Lavin: Sarah Terence De Vere White: Desert Island Benedict Kiely: The Pilgrims James Plunkett: Weep for our Pride Val Mulkerns: Loser Aidan Higgins: The Bird I Fancied William Trevor: Death in Jerusalem Brian Friel: The Diviner John Montague: An Occasion of Sin Edna O'Brien: Irish Revel Julia O'Faolain: First Conjugation John McGahern: The Beginning of an Idea Bernard Mac Laverty: Life Drawing Desmond Hogan: The Airedale Acknowledgements Index of Authors

About the Author

William Trevor, novelist, short story writer, and dramatist, is the author of The Ballroom of Romance, Angels at the Ritz, The News from Ireland, and numerous other works.


The short story, unlike the novel, is rooted in an oral tradition. Perhaps this explains its popularity and prominence in Ireland, where people have always delighted in the spoken word. From the magical folk tales and fairy stories, seven of which are given here, to classics like Joyce's ``The Dead'' and O'Connor's ``Guests of the Nation,'' Trevor admirably suggests the variety as well as the continuity of this tradition. Seumus O'Keely's poignantly comic ``The Weaver's Grave,'' about two elderly men's personal battle to remember the last free space in an ancient burial ground, is a turning point, mixing a modern sensibility with antique form. The modern story, which often portrays the brutality, repression, and disappointment characteristic of Irish life, is keenly represented by Mary Lavin's ``Sarah.'' Trevor has chosen well. Bitter Harvest , which supplements Montague's The Book of Irish Verse (Macmillan, 1974; Peter Smith, 1984. reprint), a collection of verse from earliest times to the Irish Renaissance, is not quite as successful. The contemporary poets represented here write against the backdrop of political turmoil, but the verse, less thematically homogeneous than Montague would make us think, reels more from Yeats's powerful influence than from explosives. Included are so many poets who have just started their careers that one might wait on this collection to see if all the fruits of Ireland's ``bitter harvest'' are really worth saving.-- Donald P. Kaczvinsky, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park

`Review from previous edition The very best of centuries of Irish short fiction...A classic, take-your-breath-away collection cannily assembled by a master of the medium William Trevor' Observer

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