The Crock of Gold (1912), one of three original novels by James Stephens, is a work only a master of fiction and folklore could imagine. Taking up the major philosophical and psychological concerns of the early-twentieth century-over a decade before works by T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, among others, would cement literary Modernism's place in history-Stephens' novel is a groundbreaking and important work.
The text centers on the Philosopher and his wife, the Thin Woman, who undergo a series of journeys and harrowing trials. Faced with danger both human and divine, the two characters are forced to weather the winds of change in order to change themselves. Divided into six books, The Crock of Gold-no doubt inspired by the Irish oral tradition of storytelling-follows the Philosopher's quest to save the most beautiful woman in the world; his encounter with the gods who have captured her; his return home and arrest for murder (he has been framed by leprechauns incensed at the loss of their crock of gold); and finally, the Thin Woman's quest to find the fabled Three Infinites.
James Stephens' The Crock of Gold is perhaps unparalleled in its ability to weave together ancient narrative techniques, mythological sources, and such dominant themes of its day as gender equality and humanity's quest for self-understanding beyond the traditional boundaries of faith and religion. It is also a darkly comic novel, full of ironic political commentary and suspiciously human conversations situated within the animal world. Most popular of Stephens' works, The Crock of Gold conceals in its humorous, irreverent outlook a deeply serious, ultimately reverent love for the human soul-unsurprising for an author whose life was marked with difficulty from the very beginning.
With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this new edition of James Stephens' The Crock of Gold is a classic of Irish literature reimagined for modern readers.