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Aran Islands, The
J.M. Synge; illustrations by Jack B. Yeats; foreword by Julian Bell

5" x 7 3/4" • 224 pages • illustrated
ISBN 9781897959565 • paperback • $15.00

"Go to the Aran Islands. Live there as if you were one of the people themselves, express a life that has never found expression." J.M. Synge did exactly as W.B. Yeats suggested and, revisiting these harsh yet beautiful specks of land off Ireland's west coast over a period of five years, created a literary masterpiece.

Synge immersed himself in the islanders' lives as they steered their curaghs through Atlantic waves, mourned their dead, celebrated weddings and suffered the horrors of eviction. The Aran Islands weaves their stories with Synge's own and the result, as Colm Tóibí­n has observed, is that "Unlike most travel books of 100 years ago, it has not dated at all."

This is the first paperback edition in which Jack B. Yeats's unforgettable drawings, commissioned for the first Dublin edition, have appeared alongside Synge's haunting prose. Samuel Beckett was a lifelong admirer of Yeats's "extraordinary craftsmanship" before which, he believed, "one can simply bow, wonder-struck".

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