Item description for Beside the Ocean of Time by George MacKay Brown...
Thorfinn Ragnarson is the daydreaming son of a tenant farmer who avoids both work and school despite the best efforts of family, friends and neighbours. Instead, the boy dreams up elaborate historical fantasies of himself as a Viking traveller, a freedom-fighter for Bonnie Prince Charlie and the colleague of a Falstaffian knight who participates in the Battle of Bannockburn. He is then hurled into the future as Thor, who returns to Orkney as an adult and recalls his internment in a German POW camp, where he discovered his writing skills.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5" Height: 7.5" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Jun 15, 2006
ISBN 1904598293 ISBN13 9781904598299
Availability 0 units.
More About George MacKay Brown
The work of George Mackay Brown (19171996) is defined by the spirit and history of the Orkney islands. He managed to give the culture, land, and oral tradition of the islands universal significance. Throughout his prolific writing career, he found inspiration in the history and folklore of Orkney.
Reviews - What do customers think about Beside the Ocean of Time?
Good concept but thin plot Aug 2, 2005
Brown clearly set out with a purpose in mind with this novel, and accomplished it brilliantly. The representation of how life in the Orkneys remained unchanged for centuries until suddenly being completely uprooted was very well done. Even having no knowledge of the islands beforehand, I was able to picture them through Brown's descriptions. The masterly of the language is excellent, especially with a little flair of local dialects. Vnfortunately, the nature of Brown's purpose makes it difficult for a good plot to surround it, and the story is rather unrewarding. Early on there is an interest in what's going to happen, but as it unfolds it becomes somewhat "hmm," and no more. For this I gave it a tough rating, but I do recommend that people read it, regardless of personal interests because it does show an interesting aspect of life.
If you are like me and were drawn to this book because you heard that Thorfinn is FPP (has a fantasy prone personality), it may not be what you're looking for. The idea of Thorfinn being FPP seemed to be more to move the story and goal along, and I'm not sure if Brown actually had experience with the condition. It's possible that Thorfinn is not FPP but a kid who fantasizes a lot and outgrows it.
beautiful story Jul 20, 2005
I bought a copy of this book in a used bookstore in Thurso before embarking on the Northlink ferry to Stromness in Orkney. This book evokes past and present in Orkney. I really love this book! I sure wish more writers (including myself) could write even half this well...
BRILLIANT Mar 23, 2001
This novel indicates how much Brown was a master of language and imagery. He is equally effective at capturing magical flights of fancy and the ceaseless destruction of modern society. The tension between modern society and the traditional community has a global relevance that makes the story universal. The story would be just as poignant in Africa as it is in Brown's Orkney. A truly remarkable work that well deserved being Shortlisted for the Booker prize
A Look into the Imagination of an "Idle, Useless Boy" Jan 22, 2000
The first half of this novel is completely engrossing. Young Thorfinn Ragnar takes occurences from his everyday life and from these common threads weaves beautiful stories in his imagination. Of course, no one in the real world realizes the importance of these dreams, or how gifted Thorfinn is at weaving tales, and therefore he is dismissed as an "idle, useless boy." In the second half of the book, the story takes place in the real world, abandoning the accounts of Thorfinn's imaginary worlds, and it is here that the novel loses a bit of its charm. The novel is still a beautifully-written novel, and I'm very glad I had the chance to read it.
a worthy finalist for the 1994 Booker Prize Jan 24, 1999
George Mackay Brown placed an "idle, worthless child" in a boat to look at Time and mold and meld it with his young eyes. Thorfinn Ragnarson is the boy that sails in and out of his own world of Norday in the Orkney Islands of the 1930's. He takes the people of Norday and travels with them into ancestral pasts that far outstrip their solid, predictable day to day lives. When old Jacob Olafson dies, Thorfinn stops at the kirkyard on his way home from school. The Old Testament words, heard just the day before, ring with the gravediggers spade: "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past." and Thorfinn builds a life for this old man. He brings baby Jacob across the sea to Norday, sees Jacob the young man board the Hudson's Bay ship, Windward, to journey to the "land of Eskimos and Indians" and return in ten years with an Indian wife. Real time runs its thread of laughter, solid Orkney logic and unexpected colour in the persons of Isa Esquoy, the small, constantly squeaking postmistress-storekeeper, Albert Laird, the joiner who crafts cradles and coffins, Mr. Simon, the droning, long-suffering schoolmaster and the Reverend Hector Drummond, a somewhat muddled minister whose mystery visitor, Sophie, appears in the homes of solitary folks and leaves a trail of laughter and love. Thorfinn, the adolescent, is stricken with an un-dying love for Sophie which surfaces only after the fields, barns and livlihoods of Norday are smothered under the necessary adjustments of war. Before that war, Thorfinn, the young man, still a solitary creature, had conjured the seal-people and spun love, marriage and dream-children from the sounds and silences of the sea. We thank you, George Mackay Brown, for those brief voyages that are the lives of men and for the whispers of melody from that "music that goes on and on, all the way from before the beginning till after the end."