Calum Laing (Editor)
The life and writings of Rev. John MacRury, Benbecula (1843-1907)
Publication date: 17 May 2013
The life and writings of Rev. John MacRury.
– 31 January 2022
Half ( a bit less than ) a good read.
The blub promises ” The life and writings of Rev. John MacRury “and a similar more detailed summary in Gaelic:
” Rugadh Iain MacRuairidh (1843-1907) ann am Beinn a’ Bhaoghla. Fhuair e cead searmonachaidh ann an 1877, agus bha e na mhinistear ann an Ìle, ann an Tiriodh agus ann an Snitheasort. Ach a bharrachd air a sheirbheis do dh’Eaglais na h-Alba, rinn an t-Urr. MacRuairidh mòran sgrìobhaidh, agus is mòr am beud nach eilear nas eòlaiche air mar shàr sgrìobhadair is eadar-theagair Gàidhlig. Faodaidh gur h-e as coireach cho tric ‘s a bha e a’ cleachdadh ainm-pinn, no às aonais ainm idir.
Noch a sgrìobhadh ann an gruinn phàipearan no irisean; The Highlander, MacTalla, an Northern Chronicle agus ‘Na Duilleagan Gàidhlig’ ann an iris na h-Eaglais, Life and Work. Dh’eadar-theangaich e an leabhar Sgeulachdan Arabianach agus a chuid as motha dhen leabhar Robinson Crusoe. Chuir e a-mach leabhraichean cuideachd: Eachdraidh Beatha Chriosd ann am Briathran a’ Bhioball (1893); agus An Fhìrinn mu Eaglais na h-Alba (1902), eadar-theangachadh air leabhar leis an Dr. Urr. Uilleam Mair.
Gu fortanach, tha Calum Laing air mòran rannsachaidh a dhèanamh air obair Iain MhicRuairidh, bràthair a sheanar, agus anns an leabhran seo gheibhear fìosrachadh mionaideach is feumail air a bheatha is air na sgrìobh e, cuin a sgrìobh e e agus càite. Nochd a’ chiad riochd dhen chunntas seo ann an Transactions Comunn Gàidhlig Inbhir Nis. Bidh mòran a bharrachd eòlais againn air àite-san ann an lireachas na Gàidhlig o seo a-mach. ” .
I was expecting half the book as a biography of the subject and the other half a critical appreciation review of his work, separately or mixed in the same continuous text. Unfortunately there is very little contents of this expectation.
The first 45 pages, in Gaelic, of the biography, are riddled with mentions of the books and the review magazines they were initially published into; very little details are given of his life, family, personality, living location. etc… the mentioned books have no literary critical appreciation ( or depreciation ) if the author Calum Laing was to disagree with many aspects of the subject and / or his work, as seems to be the case “…in this book he will receive a detailed and necessary viciousness of his life and writing…” and “… inter-referencing. It may have been from a crime as far as it was using a name-pen, or absent a name in between. …”.
Pages 46 to 52 give a short summary in English of the previous Gaelic text: same defects and lack of biographical and critical details.
4 pages in the middle of the book are of photographs ( most in colour ),
… and yet this was up to now the best part of the book: The whole of the second half, pages 53 to 123, is no more than a very detailed list of his works, mainly his ” Sgeulachdan Aràbianach “, the translation of ” Arabian Nights ” and the magazines they appeared into ( in many many small parts and ” episodes ): hence the enormous lists covering half the book.
Now such a book might be of use to a specialist of the subject, a librarian, an archivist, but of very little use to the average reader interested in the lives and the literary works of Gaelic writers ( and others ) . I consider it a disappointment and a missed opportunity. I can think of many better biographies: one need only look at most of the biographical section in The Gaelic Books Council site, for example:
– Sunbeams in Memory/Casan Searraich by Calum MacFhearghuis
– Seòl Mo Bheatha by Dòmhnall Eachann Meek
– Mo Bhrògan Ùra by Catrìona NicNèill
and many others.
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