KAVANAGH, Patrick. The Great Hunger.


1 in stock

Dublin: The Cuala Press, 1942. pp. 33, [3]. Publishers quarter linen on blue paper boards. Printed title. Limited to 250 copies, set in Caslon type and printed by Esther Ryan and Maire Gill. A fine copy in torn glassine wrapper. Very rare. A great opportunity to acquire this rare fine copy.

Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) farmer, shoemaker, poet and novelist was born at Iniskeen, County Monaghan and educated locally. His first book ‘Ploughman & Other Poems’ was published in 1936. Today he is recognised as a major Irish poet with universal appeal and is the subject of numerous studies. The Great Hunger describes a small-farm ethos in which a puritanical catholicism and a preoccupation with economic security combine to render men’s and women’s lives joyless and emotionally, sexually, and spiritually unfulfilled. Patrick Maguire is presented as a typical Irish farmer, sacrificing himself body and soul to agricultural productivity, living ‘that his little fields may stay fertile’, a human tragedy repeated ‘in every corner of this land’. Yet he also transcends his exemplary status to become a rounded character. “Clay is the word and clay is the flesh Where the potato-gatherers like mechanised scarecrows move Along the side-fall of the hill - Maguire and his men. If we watch them an hour is there anything we can prove Of life as it is broken-backed over the Book Of Death? Here crows gabble over worms and frogs And the gulls like old newspapers are blown clear of the hedges, luckily. Is there some light of imagination in these wet clods? Or why do we stand here shivering?”


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