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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 7, 2009 @ 9:08 am

    Six hundred and fifty pages of Bookerness

    Fiona McCann

    Curses. Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is after winning the Booker prize, and it’s some 650 pages long. And now I have to read it. Here’s what Eileen Battersby says. Any of you lot already ploughed through and consider it worth my (monumental) effort?

    • mary says:

      Yes I have read it and it is well worth the effort.
      I loved it.

    • Fiona says:

      Mary: Fair enough. It does seem to meet with unanimous approval so I’d best give it a go. Will set aside a week or two for the mammoth task . . .

    • Annie says:

      Oh god, do I have to read it too?

    • Eimear says:

      Hee. I feel your pain. I get suspicious of books that are more than 400 pages.

    • Sara says:

      If you are determined to read it you can have my copy. Our household found it formless and excruiatingly boring. It was one of our holiday books and instead I read An Introduction to Psychology poached from a hotel library, as an excuse to avoid it. Yes, that bad. Neither of us bothered finishing it. Happy to give it away free to a good home.

    • Fiona says:

      Annie: Yes. If I do, you do.

      Emear: Your suspicion may be well-founded, but I’m always disappointed when a good book ends, so maybe with this one, I get to stave off that disappointment for a good bit longer. If it’s good. If’ it’s not, woe betide you Mary for saying I should read it.

    • mise says:

      I’m with you at the starting-line, 650 pages to go. And it’s not at the top of my heap by any means. I admired her ‘An Experiment in Love’ and always keep an eye out for her journalism, but big vaguely historical stuff tends to have to wait till my arm muscles have recovered from all this typing.

    • Fiona says:

      Mise: Agreed. The historical is a bit offputting for my personal frame of mind right now, but I may be up for it once I’ve got through the bedside pile. Let me know when you dive in yourself, and I may join you.

    • Annie says:

      what’s the first sentence?

    • Sara says:

      ‘So now get up.’

    • Fiona says:

      Such a short sentence to start such a long book. How misleading of her!

    • MiMi says:

      What class of grammatical construction is ‘after winning the the’…?

    • Fiona says:

      Ah Mimi, it’s Hiberno-English, a grammtical construction adopted directly from the Irish language, where it is commonly applied, eg. “Ta si tar eis rud eigean a dheanamh”. I hope I’m not after upsetting you with such usage?

    • Tady says:

      Empathising with you Fiona, but I purchased it for my mother, who’s into all those historical novels, for her birthday. She’s loving every page of it. I, on the other hand, read Dan Browne to get it out of the way. Count your blessings it’s “Wolf Hall” you have to read.

      I’ll never get those hours of my life back…

    • Mimi says:

      As I thought then, grammatically incorrect! Thanks for the explanation…sounds a bit ‘Irish’ to me…and No you’re not ‘after’ upsetting me..whatever that means!

    • Stan Carey says:

      For the record, the Hiberno-English construction that Fiona used is not ‘grammatically incorrect’. It’s certainly informal, but this is a blog, not an editorial or a constitutional amendment. Irish has no perfect or pluperfect tenses, hence the adoption in Hiberno-English of forms that may seem peculiar or non-standard to someone unfamiliar with Irish forms of English.

      P. W. Joyce wrote about this use of ‘after’ in English As We Speak It In Ireland, on pages 84-85 here. Joyce used it in Ulysses. Modern grammatical theory has moved on from the fusty prescriptivism of centuries gone by, and tends not to attach social value judgements to dialectal variation.


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