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    THE IRISH STORYTELLER

GEORGES DENIS ZIMMERMAN

'This in-depth examination by Professor Zimmerman delves deeply into Ireland's past in a bid to unravel the role of the story and the storyteller in Irish life down through the centuries. While there is a dearth of written evidence before the 19th century, the oral tradition was correspondingly strong in preserving the old story cycles. The observations of visitors to the country, who left vivid descriptions of both the storytellers and the settings for an evening's entertainment, become particularly important in the 18th and 19th centuries, as does the contribution to the preservation of folktales by a number of noted writers. Professor Zimmerman refers to the writings of Thomas Crofton Croker, William Carleton, Maria Edgeworth and Thomas Moore as a vehicle for writing about storytelling or incorporating some of the stories in their works. He also touches on the international aspect of folk tales, citing a number of examples where basic themes are repeated in stories from a number of different countries.

The great story-gathering undertaking in the early and mid-20th century, when the recording machine was introduced for the first time, brings us to more familiar territory, while an examination of the way in which stories were adapted to suit different audiences is particularly interesting. This incredibly detailed work is a mine of information, both fact and fiction, which will reward a close study, and its publication is especially timely in the month in which we have lost one of Ireland's great storytellers.

Eamon Kelly' Irish Emigrant Review.


Emigrant Online

This in-depth examination by Professor Zimmerman delves deeply into Ireland's past in a bid to unravel the role of the story and the storyteller in Irish life down through the centuries. While there is a dearth of written evidence before the 19th century, the oral tradition was correspondingly strong in preserving the old story cycles. The observations of visitors to the country, who left vivid descriptions of both the storytellers and the settings for an evening's entertainment, become particularly important in the 18th and 19th centuries, as does the contribution to the preservation of folktales by a number of noted writers. Professor Zimmerman refers to the writings of Thomas Crofton Croker, William Carleton, Maria Edgeworth and Thomas Moore as a vehicle for writing about storytelling or incorporating some of the stories in their works. He also touches on the international aspect of folk tales, citing a number of examples where basic themes are repeated in stories from a number of different countries.

The great story-gathering undertaking in the early and mid-20th century, when the recording machine was introduced for the first time, brings us to more familiar territory, while an examination of the way in which stories were adapted to suit different audiences is particularly interesting. This incredibly detailed work is a mine of information, both fact and fiction, which will reward a close study, and its publication is especially timely in the month in which we have lost one of Ireland's great storytellers, Eamon Kelly.

Reviewed by Pauline Ferrie