Read Flammende Heide by Colm Tóibín Free Online
Book Title: Flammende Heide|
Loaded: 1973 times
Reader ratings: 4.9
The author of the book: Colm Tóibín
Edition: Rowohlt Verlag
Date of issue: June 1996
ISBN 13: 9783498065102
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 5.90 MB
City - Country: No data
Read full description of the books:
Let me start by asking, what is it about Irish authors and their beach houses? Often decaying, often illuminated on and off by a nearby lighthouse, they are almost characters in the novels. That’s the case with this story by Toibin as well as his Blackwater Lightship. Beach houses figure prominently in Trevor’s Silence in the Garden and in Lucy Gault. Then there’s Banville’s The Sea. And I happen to be reading The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch – another Irish author and another beach house. It also makes me think of the beach house and lighthouse that prominently figure in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, although of course she’s not an Irish writer.
So this is an early novel by Toibin, his second, 1992. A judge and law professor is approaching retirement. In alternating present and past chapters, we see his current life and his reflections on his coming of age. The beach house that he retreats to every summer with his wife is the same one he visits as a child and it’s literally in danger of eroding into the sea, as a neighboring house does in the story.
The judge has just learned that his unmarried daughter is pregnant. That doesn’t stop him from making a legal ruling that allows a catholic school to dismiss a girl who just delivered a baby (even though the baby’s father can stay in the school). Needless to say, he has a distant relationship with his daughter and with a son. His wife has a stroke and his life changes.
(view spoiler)[We learn about his past. He grew up as an adult who barely had a childhood. He hardly knew his mother when she died so he cooks and cleans for himself and his father. In a way he never got over the loss, or the lack really, of a mother. Even as an adult he’s always querying relatives and old family friends and shopkeepers who might have known his mother to find out anything about her. We learn of family, friends, first love, Christmases, deaths of grandparents. The family didn’t talk much to children, so he was always trying to figure things out on his own. He was an altar boy going to mass twice on Sundays. He reflects on the “mortal sins” of his early experiences with a girl.
The judge’s father was a school teacher (and his own teacher). The teacher has a stroke but is allowed to continue to teach. So as a boy the main character is embarrassed at how poorly his father could speak and comprehended questions and how he lost control of his classes. Late in life his wife also has a stroke as his father did. So to some extent this is a story of the difficulties of caring for people who have suffered strokes. (hide spoiler)]
As a geographer, I appreciate Toibin using a real landscape and real places in County Wexford in the southeastern-most part of Ireland. Tuskar Rock is a real lighthouse, Ballyconnigar, Curracloe Beach are along cliffs as featured in the story and they are subject to extreme erosion with occasional beachfront homes falling into the sea. Enniscorthy, where the main character grew up, also featured in his novel Brooklyn, is a real town where Toibin grew up.
Two passages I particularly liked:
“He had the air of a man sitting in a room he wasn’t used to, wearing clothes that he normally wore only to Sunday Mass.”
“He felt that he could be any age watching this scene, and experienced a sudden illusion that nothing in him had changes since he first saw these buildings.”
Good writing, understated, like Trevor’s, and a good story as we would expect from Toibin.
Photos from top: Curracloe Beach from panoramio.com
Tuskar Rock lighthouse from indigo.ie
Enniscorthy from wld.ir
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Read information about the authorColm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel ‘The South’ (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction Award) and ‘Homage to Barcelona’, both published in 1990. When he returned to Ireland in 1978 he worked as a journalist for ‘In Dublin’, ‘Hibernia’ and ‘The Sunday Tribune’, becoming features editor of ‘In Dublin’ in 1981 and editor of Magill, Ireland’s current affairs magazine, in 1982. He left Magill in 1985 and travelled in Africa and South America. His journalism from the 1980s was collected in ‘The Trial of the Generals’ (1990). His other work as a journalist and travel writer includes ‘Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border’ (1987) and ‘The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe’ (1994). His other novels are: ‘The Heather Blazing (1992, winner of the Encore Award); ‘The Story of the Night’ (1996, winner of the Ferro-Grumley Prize); ‘The Blackwater Lightship’ (1999, shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize and the Booker Prize and made into a film starring Angela Lansbury); ‘The Master’ (2004, winner of the Dublin IMPAC Prize; the Prix du Meilleur Livre; the LA Times Novel of the Year; and shortlisted for the Booker Prize); ‘Brooklyn’ (2009, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year). His short story collections are ‘Mothers and Sons’ (2006, winner of the Edge Hill Prize) and ‘The Empty Family (2010). His play ‘Beauty in a Broken Place’ was performed at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin in 2004. His other books include: ‘The Modern Library: the 200 Best Novels Since 1950’ (with Carmen Callil); ‘Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush’ (2002); ‘Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar’ (2002) and ‘All a Novelist Needs: Essays on Henry James’ (2010). He has edited ‘The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction’. His work has been translated into thirty languages. In 2008, a book of essays on his work ‘Reading Colm Toibin’, edited by Paul Delaney, was published. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster and from University College Dublin. He is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. In 2006 he was appointed to the Arts Council in Ireland. He has twice been Stein Visiting Writer at Stanford University and also been a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University.
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