Turtle Was Gone A Long Time, Volume Three: Anaconda Canoe

By: John Moriarty

Publication Date: September 1998

(1 customer review)


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’.

‘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.

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1 review for Turtle Was Gone A Long Time, Volume Three: Anaconda Canoe

  1. Lilliput Press

    “This final volume of Turtle Was Gone a Long Time is the third in a series which takes the reader on a quest or journey to Divine Ground. John Moriarty uses story-telling as a major tool in understanding the journey. This journey is open to all, and John uses material from a variety of traditions to illustrate his points, if one can use this type of terminology. The book is not for the faint-hearted. There is little room for the comfort of ignorance. John tells us that the psyche is the blind not the window.
    Think about it.
    The realisation of this is, in his words, a “movement essential”, a metamorphosis. The book is also full of humour, compassion, love, light, above all, inspiration. The hunger it evokes, the emotions it gives birth to, are food for the soul, food for the spirit.
    It is not to be read from cover to cover, rather one selects from any chapter as the spirit moves one. We are honoured to be given the opportunity to read the ideas put forward by John Moriarty.” ANNE GARVEY

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Weight 1 kg
Dimensions 160 × 240 mm
Publication Date

September 1998


Hardback, 244pp

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