Beside the Ocean of Time

Overview

In this novel set on the fictitious island of Norday in the Orkneys, George Mackay Brown beckons us into the imaginary world of the young Thorfinn Ragnarson, the son of a crofter. In his day-dreams he relives the history of this island people, travelling back in time to join Viking adventurers at the court of the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople, then accompanying a Falstaffian knight to the battle of Bannockburn. Thorfinn wakes to the twentieth century and a community whose way of life, steeped in legend and ...

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Calgary 1994 Hardcover First Canadian New in New dust jacket 1896209122. 1 x 8.6 x 5.7 Inches; 217 pages.

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Overview

In this novel set on the fictitious island of Norday in the Orkneys, George Mackay Brown beckons us into the imaginary world of the young Thorfinn Ragnarson, the son of a crofter. In his day-dreams he relives the history of this island people, travelling back in time to join Viking adventurers at the court of the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople, then accompanying a Falstaffian knight to the battle of Bannockburn. Thorfinn wakes to the twentieth century and a community whose way of life, steeped in legend and tradition, has remained unchanged for centuries. But as the boy grows up - and falls in love with a vivacious and mysterious stranger - the transforming effect of modern civilization brings momentous and irreversible changes to the island. During the Second World War Thorfinn finds himself in a German prisoner-of-war camp, and it is here that he discovers his gifts as a writer. Long afterwards he returns, now a successful novelist, to a deserted and battle-scarred island. Searching for the peace and freedom of mind he had in abundance as a child, he finds instead something he didn't even know he was looking for. George Mackay Brown intertwines myth and reality to create a novel of deceptive simplicity. The story of Thorfinn and the island of Norday is a universal and profound one, rooted in the timeless landscape of the Orkneys, the inspiration of all his writing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Brown's sweet coming-of-age novel about a fantasy-prone adolescent growing up in the Orkney Islands just before WWII offers some moving passages and fine, delicate prose but is sabotaged by a paucity of plot and narrative drive. Thorfinn Ragnarson is the daydreaming son of a tenant farmer, avoiding both work and school despite the best efforts of family, friends and neighbors. Instead, the boy dreams up elaborate historical fantasies. In a series of odd yet intriguing chapters, Brown (Vinland) transforms Thorfinn into a Viking traveler, a freedom-fighter for Bonnie Prince Charlie and the colleague of a Falstaffian knight who participates in the Battle of Bannockburn. The author then hurls his protagonist into the future as Thor, who returns to the Orkneys as an adult and recalls his internment in a German POW camp, where he discovered his writing skills. Thor also reflects on the history of the islands, the links between dreaming and writing and the whims of fate. Brown's lyrical descriptions and gift for local color capture the flavor of the Orkneys (where he was born), but his thin and choppy story line undermines this otherwise worthwhile effort. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781896209128
  • Publisher: Bayeux Arts, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/1994
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

George Mackay Brown was a Scottish poet, author and dramatist, whose work has a distinctly Orcadian character. He is considered one of the great Scottish poets of the 20th century. "Beside the Ccean of Time" was short-listed for the 1994 Booker Prize.

He studied at the University of Edinburgh and lived most of his life in Stromness, Orkney Islands. He died in Stromness in 1996. This is his last collection of poems.

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