The Crock of Gold- James Stephens

When a meddling Philosopher helps his neighbour steal a crock of gold belonging to the leprechauns of Gort na Gloca Mora, they are not happy. But as he is married to a powerful member of the Shee, and the crock is buried under a thorn bush and therefore protected by all the fairies in Ireland, they have to be very careful as to how they get their revenge but suffice it to say it involves long journeys, strange meetings, ancient gods, young maidens, policemen and strangers aplenty.

Recently reissued by John Murray publishers as part of their newly issued Heritage Collection which revisits classics from their backlist, The Crock of Gold was written in 1912 by James Stephens, a contemporary of James Joyce. For me, the prose had some of the density of Joyce, but was much livelier, combining folklore, philosophy and a good dash of humour to create a good old Irish yarn.

I always love a novel which makes good use of folkloric motifs and storytelling conventions, but that aside, I loved James Stephens’ wry comments on the battle of the sexes and his characterisation generally. The dynamic between the Philosopher and his wife is especially interesting.

For all the novel talks a lot of nonsense, it talks a lot of sense. A great read if you like traditional storytelling.

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