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The Crock of Gold (Revised Edition)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  470 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Truly unique, it is a mixture of philosophy, Irish folklore and the battle of the sexes all with charm, humour and good grace. The Crock of Gold contains 6 books: Book 1 – The Coming of Pan, Book 2 – The Philosophers Journey, Book 3 – The Two Gods, Book 4 – The Philosophers Return, Book 5 – The Policemen, and Book 6 – The Thin Woman's Journey. All rotate around the astonis ...more
Paperback, 116 pages
Published September 27th 2006 by Echo Library (first published 1912)
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Elizabeth Clemens
Sep 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I first started reading Stephens when I was studying in Ireland- this book is by far his best. You would do well to be familiar with Irish Mythology and his contemporary writers to understand a lot of the humor, as he pokes fun at both throughout the book. Like any book, you can read it on different levels and put it into different contexts, but at its base, The Crock of Gold is a really delightful fantasy/adventure that will make you wonder why Stephens is not more well known.

Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love these passages:
"A thought is a real thing and words are only its raiment, but a thought is as shy as a virgin; unless it is fittingly aparelled we may not look on its shadowy nakedness: it will fly from us and only return again in the darkness crying in a thin, childish voice which we may not comprehend until, with aching wings, listening and divining, we at last fashion for it those symbols which are its protection and its banner." (p. 39)

"Why should thought be apparent to us, so insiste
Molly G
Picked it up at a garage sale because it looked magical, and indeed it was. Funny and lovely and unpretentious, flipping between lyrically wise and hysterically judgmental (would be offensive, e.g. on gender analyses, if the passages weren't clearly in character and deliberate, and were later evened out perfectly by flipping condemnation to the opposite party, and/or by developing into genuinely sage points). Loved the treatment of issues and philosophies, loved the internal seemingly digressive ...more
J.M. Hushour
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Written almost a century ago, but far surpassing in wit, poetry, and sublimation pretty much almost anything written since then. The Leprecauns of Gort na Cloca have their pot of gold stolen and for revenge kidnap the Philosophers' children Seamus and Brigid which sets into motion a series of events involving Angus Og, the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath, Pan, the fairy folk of the Shee, and the wise and profound musings of all involved. Tolkien meets Musil, and thus they steal "even the Intellect of ...more
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
With a recommendation like this from the genius that is Tom Robbins:

"Are you familiar with James Stephens and his amazing book, "The Crock of Gold"? The Harry Potter books are ABOUT magic, "The Crock of Gold" IS magic."

How could I refuse, so my last read was this magical book. It was perfect for me right from the outset - I love trees, I love magic, I love wisdom and I love Pan whom I first encountered in Tom's very own book 'Jitterbug Perfume' (another classic!) all of which are to be found wit
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I listed this book although I don't own a copy now. I read it at my college library, perhaps out of curiosity piqued by its small hardbound copy, old and classical-looking, or maybe by the opening lines quoted here in Goodreads, which I have completely forgotten. But although I've forgotten the words, the magical glow of the experience of reading it comes back anytime I think of the book itself. And the sad part was I never read anything else of James Stephens since then. It was also the time wh ...more
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's easy to see after reading the Crock of Gold where Flann O"Brien spent his formative years. Aside from the pub, I mean, or in addition to it. Which is to say, in between the lines of a book wherein forest philosophers (and their long suffering wives) consider carefully the mystery of lost washboards, pursue recalcitrant leprechauns, seek redress from the ancient Angus Og, and finally battle wits with policemen. Though perhaps "wits" is overstating it. They are policemen, after all. (Sans bic ...more
Steve Morrison
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A wondrous and delightfully odd little fantasy with leprechauns, philosophers, and gods. It reminds me a bit of the experience of reading The Wind In The Willows, because it is a book that refuses to settle on being only one thing. From section to section the book continually reinvents itself, while always remaining constant in its gentle charming spirit. I've also learned that James Stephens was Joyce's choice to complete Finnegans Wake, if Joyce became unable to do so, which is gleefully bizar ...more
Steve Morrison
A really wonderful, unique book that I was lucky to discover. Stephens was James Joyce's appointee to finish the monumental Finnegans Wake in the event that Joyce was unable to do so. The book reminded me a bit of The Wind in the Willows--it seemed that several charming novels were happening at the same time. The plot (inasmuch as there is a central plot) hinges around philosophers and leprechauns, by the way. Utterly delightful.
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Found an ancient copy of this book in Portland Oregon at Powells book store and what a find. A delightful story and storytelling. Full of wit and satire. Usually a book written during this time period is challenging to read but not so with Crock of Gold.
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my view on life.
Sandra Bunting
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is brilliant.
Eleanor Toland
James Stephens's obscure fantasy novel The Crock of Gold begins as a straightforwardly goofy battle-of-the-sexes comedy about two obtuse philosopher brothers and their argumentative wives but quickly blossoms into something else, something convoluted, endlessly strange and magical in the most genuine way.

Fair folk, police, and a robin redbreast are just some of the characters jostling for space in this relatively short volume. There's a murder trial, a fairy war, a love triangle involving two g
William Korn
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This has got to be the most delightful, warm, funny, and philosophical Irish fairy tale ever written. It concerns two Philosophers, their wives (women of the Sidhe, or "Shee"), their children, and how their affairs become intertwined with a band of Leprechauns. The conflict grows and spreads until the the "real" Ireland of the early 20th century is pitted against all of Faerie. To add to the joyous confusion a foreign God invades the Irish uplands, contending with the a Great One of Faerie, Angu ...more
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
An intriguing blend of Irish folklore, philosophy and poetic thoughts, this novel was a very interesting read. On the one hand, I was very taken by it's atmosphere and the straightforward whimsy of the characters and their issues. I am not very familiar with Irish folklore and I wonder if that would have helped me appreciate this story better, as I did find it a little too leisurely in pace, and sometimes the characters seemed unsympathetically ridiculous. Although the writing is beautiful it is ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Among his other work, James Stephens, a contemporary and friend of James Joyce, turned his writing skills towards the retelling of classic Irish folk tales.

An early-20th-century copy of this book was in a batch of books destined for recycling at a local 2nd-hand bookseller - & was immediately rescued by my daughter so that she could use the illustrations in her artwork. Once we began reading the text, however, it became clear that this is an absolutely brilliant literary gem of incredibly a
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
An Irish fairy tale that is at times deep, dense, diverse -- and can be quite funny. The plot is fairly simple, and the theme can be condensed to "Don't Mess With Leprecauns". But the book takes a path that is anything but direct, with philosophical essays and stories-within-the-story.

Stephens was a poet and it shows in his prose, with paragraphs that are quite lyrical and poetic. Sometimes the philosophical "tangents" get a bit dense -- similar to Melville and Conrad, but with a decidedly Iris
Jason Downey
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book
This is a witty story that reads, for large swaths, like someone telling you a story over a campfire. Very unselfconscious; very unconcerned with prosaic acrobatics. It's got a plot, and it's charming and entertaining enough, but the plot is threaded through with long conversations that are really fun reading. I highlighted more passages in this book than any other I've ever read, and nearly all of the passages were inconsequential--it was just full of fun sentences and sayings that I want to re ...more
Apr 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the weirdest book I ever read. I loved some parts of it and hated others. It felt disorganized, but at the same time everything went together. Some statements in it were so sexist that they were ridiculous, to the point where I couldn't tell whether the author actually believed the statements or was making fun of them. They seemed earnest and satirical at the same time.

All in all, I think I sort of kind of maybe liked The Crock of Gold. I'd probably have to read it a few more times to k
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
James Stephens was part of the Irish cultural revival around and after the turn of the 20th century. In this sublime modern folk tale, the Greek god Pan comes to Ireland and shacks up with a local farmgirl in a cave, the inadvertent killing of a robin redbreast triggers retaliation by leprachauns, a philosopher engages in hysterical dialog with policemen by night as they bring him in for murder, the "murder" is really just suicide by spinning-in-circles, and your stir-about is on the hob.
Kevin Coady
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fanciful, intelligent,funny and strange. I was told that Stephens was James Joyce's favorite author. Do not know if it is true but I understand how he could be. "And she didn't go with him for love, nor because she understood the words he said, but because he was naked and unashamed."
Yes folks, it is that kind of wondrous writing.
Peter Brockert
May 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: humour, fantasy
This book has been sitting here not getting read for over a year. Time to admit it just wasn't good enough to finish after reading it half way through. If it hasn't kept my interest enough by then, it's time to drop it.
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So very brilliant that it astounds me at times. It is like sitting down and listening to a truly well spun yarn in the best of traditions. I have read this several times. It is among my favorite books.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, wise book about leprechauns and philosophy, about the clash of cultures and the journey of life, and about growing old and growing young. Stephens offers us a unforgettable tale that touches the heartstrings with quirky characters ans poetic language.
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely Wonderful. Some of the best writing I've ever read. If you like Irish folklore, read this. Actually, just read it if you enjoy a good story well told...with plenty of humor, and much to sit and ponder.
Darshan Elena
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read, this novel offers a nice blend of fantasy and mystery. A great novel for anyone embarking on a trip to Ireland. I will be sure to re-read it before traveling to those green isles!
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book! Somehow lost in history but should be read by everyone.
Red Fox
What a great imaginative tale; funny and absurd.

I wish I'd had this book as a child but I am glad that it found its way to my life at last.
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
one of the best reads of all time, with haunting quotes above all the porridge one
"Bothing is perfect. There are lumps in it" said the Philosopher
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have an original copy of this book, though I am afriad to open it up and ruin what's left of the binding, I have read a revised copy of it. I love it to pieces!
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James Stephens was an Irish novelist and poet. James' mother worked in the home of the Collins family of Dublin and was adopted by them. He attended school with his adopted brothers Thomas and Richard (Tom and Dick) before graduating as a solicitor's clerk. They competed and won several athletic competitions despite James' slight stature (he stood 4'10" in his socks). He was known affectionately a ...more
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“What the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow” 10 likes
“It has occurred to me, brother, that wisdom may not be the end to everything. Goodness and kindness are, perhaps, beyond wisdom. Is it not possible that the ultimate end is music and gaiety and a dance of joy? Wisdom is the oldest of all things. Wisdom is all head and no heart.Behold, brother, you are being crushed under the weight of your head. You are dying of old age while you are yet a child.” 4 likes
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