Archimedes and the Seagle
"'I have to listen to all sorts of crackpot remarks from humans with little knowledge, and be thought to agree. They - the humans - think it's worship when I look uo with my mouth open; or at least respect, since I don't answer back. Sometimes, I can't help it and let out a short howl if they've said something unusually stupid.'
"So says Archimedes, from his dog's eye view of the world. Of humans with their vulnerability, and of their tyrannies over things, creatures, themselves, over language and knowledge.
"With compassion, generous delight and simple wisdom, he observes life's complexities, from the petty squabbling greed of the gulls to the not-so-different patterns in human nature.
"As he marvels at the soaring, solitary flight of the seagle, he recognises how much of his own joy and energy are social. And that even the earthbound can dream of the sky."
"In Archimedes and the Seagle, Ireland's celebratory impulse is given full play and the gentler, more whimsical dimension of his vision prevails over the dark and brooding of his earlier novels, City of Women and Woman of the Future." - Helen Daniel
Before I go any further, a few words of apology are called for if this book is to escape even more severe censure than it certainly deserves.
Since I began to think, it seems to me to be more and more the case that an indefinite quantity of time can be spent exploring even a few moments of existence. For the more thoroughly you track down the contents of a moment, the more you find in it; and the more you think about it, the more you find that we live in moments, in little crevices in time. I however, deal in this book with a large tract of time - quite a few weeks, in fact. That means there are a great many moments of existence passed over, referred to briefly, elided or ignored; also that a few words are stretched out to cover complicated issues that deserve volumes. As well, there are some gaps in the narrative between the end of the children's August holidays and the start of the Christmas holidays; times when I did no writing of my own at all, being so absorbed in the Book.
That's enough of an apology.
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1986.
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Last modified: May 16, 2001.