Ape's Reviews > The Green Isle of the Great Deep

The Green Isle of the Great Deep by Neil M. Gunn
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May 15, 11

bookshelves: scotland, alternatives-and-end-of-the-world
Read from May 14 to 15, 2011, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** This book was published in the 1940s by a Scottish writer. And I have never heard of him. Is it just me or has this guy become forgotten.

This is a real curiosity of a book, and I think it needs more than one reading to get everything out of it. Because it does get a bit phillosophical, in a way that Herland did, with this quiet kind of brooding atmosphere at times.Set in the Scottish Highlands, Old Hectar and a young boy, Art, go fishing and end up drowning in a pool. They wake up in the Green Isle, which was a Celtic myth of paradise/the other side. Here it's very similar to the land where they were. There are masses of fruit trees everywhere laden with food and it all looks idyllic and wonderful. Heaven?

Not quite. They're told that they have to go to the seat, a rocky outcrop where those on high controlling the population are. Almost made me think of Arthur's Seat!! And to do this they are told they must follow the road, stay at the inns and eat the porridge. And never eat any fruit - all sounds like a strict pilgrimmage. Except that they don't do this. People in this land are all brainwashed into a way of thinking, living and working, by the Controller and the Questioner. There's no brutality or force, but if you question the way of things, the questioner will question you and make all your ideas and thoughts look ridiculous until you come away around to their way of thinking. God is also in this world, being the ultimate one in control, but because he's busy off meditating most of the time, people like the Controller and the Questioner are left in charge to tell the people what to do. Everyone is allowed to ask for an audience with God, but as they have to go through the questioner, who will question their motives to death until they change their mind, people never get as far as God.

But things change when the little lad, Art, gets frightened and refuses to join in; instead running away and hiding in the countryside and living off the forbidden fruit. And a massive hunt (witches?) is set up to find and capture him, and those who have helped him are taken away for questioning which seems to brainwash them and rob them of their souls.

There's a lot going on in this book, which is why I think it's one of these things that needs multiple readings.
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