Turtle Was Gone A Long Time, Volume Three: Anaconda Canoe
By: John Moriarty
Anaconda Canoe concludes a remarkable spiritual journey undertaken in volumes one and two, in which Turtle dives to the floor of the abyss to recover hidden intuitions about the world in a journey from ignorance to knowledge, darkness to light, from paradise lost to paradise regained. This third and final volume derives from an Amazonian myth in which, on the first morning of the world, a woman of defining importance for religion and culture ascends the primeval river in an Anaconda Canoe. As she ascends it we cannot but acknowledge her as a kind of Cortez, Ishmael, Kurtz or Jonah, come to challenge us in our most fundamental beliefs about ourselves and our universe.
From the classical-Christian shores of Europe and the Mediterranean, to the farther reaches of Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas, John Moriarty trawls the deeps of world literatures, mythology and sacred texts. The metaphoric richness in which his work is elaborated lends Anaconda Canoe, and this entire trilogy, its power to arouse and re-open the road to civilization and culture, establishing Moriarty as a major contemporary figure in Irish literature. As Thomas Mann said of The Magic Mountain, ‘This is a book of departure, its service is to life, its will is to health, its goal is the future’.
‘With the publication of its third and final volume, John Moriarty’s magisterial trilogy, a treasure of the mystical tradition, offers all of us encouragement and an escort for the forced march into the dreadful, deserted millennium before us. Call him Ishmael, call him Isaac, call him Israel, this god-wrestling nightwalker has brought back bread and wine from the world of Melchizedek to the bread and circuses of our narcotised inertia. Moriarty’s odyssey traverses the stories and sacraments of innumerable human communities, in a grand pan-ethnic reconnaissance of the forms of faith in a planet at prayer to find and found himself again and again in the simple passion narratives of the Jewish Christian gospels.’ – Aidan Mathews, The Irish Times
‘There is something magical here. His profound dialogue with all the great sages and writers whom you feel are within him. He has enlarged himself to contain it all. One feels the intensity of his knowing, the emotions, the soul, the rocks, the mountains, the seas.’
– Camilla O’Callaghan, Network Ireland
JOHN MORIARTY, writer and philosopher, was born in Kerry in 1938 and educated at Listowel and University College Dublin. He taught English literature at Manitoba University in Canada for six years, before returning to Ireland in 1971. Sometime gardener, lecturer and broadcaster, in 1997 he hosted a major RTE television series, ‘The Blackbird and the Bell’. His books include Dreamtime (1994), and the first two volumes of Turtle Was Gone a Long Time: Crossing the Kedron (1996) and Horsehead Nebula Neighing (1997). He lived his final years down from the Horse’s Glen at the foot of Mangerton Mountain in north Kerry.