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All we have now are opinions, and ours can barely be heard over a million others, each equally convinced of its rectitude. But the astute reader will have guessed by now that I am speaking not of the comically nightmarish afterlife depicted in The Dirty Dust but of the world of literary translation. What is it but pure and beautiful faith on the parts of we readers, consumers, acolytes when we succeed in navigating the cognitive dissonance of believing despite the evidence of our senses and intelligence that a product entitled, say, Hopscotch , is in fact a product entitled Rayuela —the consumption of which will endow an in this case Anglophone with all the rights and privileges accorded a reader of the words actually set down by its author?

A novel is born, lives through a publicity cycle or two, dies, is memorialized, and on its journey toward eternity becomes a wordless quiddity in the heaven-cum-purgatory of translation, shedding everything that made it itself save the pomps of its identity.

Graveyard Clay

We who await its arrival, craving access to its bounty, deploy our table-rappers and haruspices to make contact, and then welcome it with much fanfare—hosanna! I will burst! Often, mind you, Mr. The pert peek of serendipitous stalks and the fresh smile which breaks on the bare earth are the basting thread of this suit of clothes.

These are triumphs of bad-good and good-good and bad-wink-bad writing, deserving of applause. And yet, and yet. The reader—or this reader—is never able to settle in and simply enjoy. Yes, The Dirty Dust disappointed me—but disappointment and the backbiting that follows disappointment are precisely what the book is about. We hope for heaven, for the ideal, and wind up with decomposition. I will for a moment question one of the basic tenets of my religion—that where translations are concerned, the more is always the merrier—before I lapse into my accustomed, mountain-moving faith, and determine yet again that this eternal argument is the only heaven we deserve.

Jeremy M.

Graveyard Clay: Cre na Cille (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

A brilliant new translation of O Cadhain's modern Irish literature masterpiece, meant to spark debate and comparison with Alan Titley's Dirty Dust , now with bonus materials on its history, reception, interpretations, adaptations, and more In critical opinion and popular polls, Mairtin O Cadhain's Graveyard Clay is invariably ranked the most important prose work in modern Irish. They have achieved a lofty goal: to convey O Cadhain's meaning accurately and to meet his towering literary standards. Graveyard Clay is a novel of black humor, reminiscent of the work of Synge and Beckett.

The story unfolds entirely in dialogue as the newly dead arrive in the graveyard, bringing news of recent local happenings to those already confined in their coffins. Avalanches of gossip, backbiting, flirting, feuds, and scandal-mongering ensue, while the absurdity of human nature becomes ever clearer.

This edition of O Cadhain's masterpiece is enriched with footnotes, bibliography, publication and reception history, and other materials that invite further study and deeper enjoyment of his most engaging and challenging work.

My Wishlist

O Cadhain has been nobly served by his translators. It will be deeply satisfying for readers familiar with the original and will be of huge value to those struggling linguistically to access it. A book to be cherished for centuries. It is a version in which imaginative audacity is tempered only by sound textual scruple.


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Mac Con Ionmaire and Robinson provide a meticulously faithful rendering of O Cadhain's rich Conamara Irish while at the same time capturing the raucous, rabelaisian humor of his classic novel. Added to basket. Nine Perfect Strangers. Liane Moriarty. Agent Running in the Field.


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