Thursday, October 02, 2008

Paulo Coelho in Ireland (Not)

Most people either love him or hate him. I'm ambivalent. Every time I read another one (and I have read just about everything), I begin with "My God, this man is a fraud. How does he get away with it? The writing is WOEFUL!" and then I end up reading the whole thing because there is something there, something that catches me, i.e. an occasional flicker of serious soul stuff. Now I am reading Brida, supposedly set in Ireland, and of course my immediate reaction is "My God, this man is a fraud. How does he get away with it?" Paulo, Paulo, if you are going to set a book in a country that you know nothing about, at least have the decency to visit it or failing that, do a bit of research. Here are a few instant points:
1) there are no snakes or scorpions under any rocks in Ireland and no Irish woman would think there might be
2) if you travel 90 miles from Dublin and then go another 3 hours in a bus, you are most likely drowning in the sea or the ocean
3) no self-respecting witch in Ireland (or anywhere else for that matter) would call herself "Wicca"
4) and while I am on names, Brida O'Fern is the most ridiculous makey-up Irish name I have ever heard. Also is her boyfriend Irish? Because "Lorens" is pretty ludicrous too.
5) your descriptions of so-called Moon and Sun Traditions in Ireland are bizarre and unbelievable, given that you present them as utterly divorced from ancient Irish traditions.
6) as for your descriptions of the Irish landscape - could you not even have GLANCED at a picture of the country, for godsakes?
7) Oh and barges with sailors and pleasure boats on the Liffey - now that's funny.
8) I understand that local dialogue can be difficult but these people don't even sound remotely Irish in word or cadence.
And I'm not even half-way through the book yet ...
So, you've got a story you want to tell and you just throw a dart at the globe and that's where it is set?


Anonymous said...

Ok, you can dislike the book, but
a] I don't know where did you see this, because according to the tradition, St. Patrick expelled all the snakes. And everybody knows that. Either is a mistake in the translation (which I doubt) or you are putting it out of context

b] if you go North to Dublin, as I did, travelling around 90 Kms (not 3hs + 90 miles, and I may be wrong about the distance, but I am right about the time it took for me to get there), you end up in Templetown. There the scene with Laurens takes place)
c] as for names, etc, I am not going to comment on that. But I've been not only to the North but also to the South of Ireland, in several occasions. One of them was for a documentary; you can ask Eire TV for a copy: it takes place in Westford, Cappoquin.
I hope I answered your questions.

OR Melling said...

Hmm, I seriously doubt you are the real Paulo Coelho, but I didn't say I dsliked the book. As usual, I'm ambivalent. (The Sabbath was great.)On Brida's first night she talks about "snakes and scorpions" under the rock that she is sitting against and she refers to them again later. No Irishwoman would. She does indeed say she travelled 90 miles from Dublin and then took a bus for 3 hours to the village to meet the Magus. Also, I don't see how the author could have visited Ireland and described the landscape as he does: not a single reference to the ubiquitous rolling green hills or hedge-lined fields! Nor is Dublin described like Dublin. As for Brida not seeing a flower until spring-time - the temperate climate here means most of our gardens have some kind of flowers all winter. The strangest bit of all, of course, is the way he has Wiccans quoting the New Testament all the time. I don't know any Wiccans who would do this. They are a pre-Christian Tradition. But thanks for writing, whoever you are!

Anonymous said...

Of course it is me. As I suggested, try to get this documentary on the "movie statues" that I made in 1999 to the Irish TV. Who else could know this? My first visit to Dublin, and to the place I describe in Brida, was in 1982. I was in a B&B called Adelphi's (it does not exist anymore). And you will probably see Brasil in a different way I see, because you are not a Brazilian. The same goes for any foreigner that a visit any country: they don't see the place as the locals, because they have innocence in their eyes.
As for the magical traditions described in the book as typical Irish - on the opposite, I speak about a universal Tradition.
One more thing: when I described the Road to Santiago in The Pilgrimage, I heard the same comments from Spanish people (the author does not describe the landscapes).
The same rule (foreigner x local) applies.
You may ask yourself: why this famous author is discussing my blog? Because, as a reader, you deserve my respect.

OR Melling said...

Ach, you've got more charm than an Irishman! Eu rendo-me!

Anonymous said...

Don't you think Laurens is a poor translation of Lawrence.

It is really something to have Paulo Coelho respond himself - it may be him.

I just loved Brida and The Pilgrimage. I have been to Ireland and walked the Camino. These books are not travel guides.

There is something so wonderful about Coelho combining Wiccan pagan traditions and Christianity strangely that was my experience of the Camino.

I was just checking out Paulo Coelho's blog where he quotes Bernadette Devlin, now if that isn't an obscure Irish reference. I also love her.

From Toronto

OR Melling said...

Yeah, I realised that later, i.e. the Lawrence bit. Worse, in my copy it was spelled "Lorens." You're right, it's bad translation. You'd think a bestselling author would be given someone who would make more of an effort. My translators have actually contacted me to confirm name changes. Have to say, though, if you live in Ireland reading Brida is a bizarre experience. The characters, the setting, the dialogue etc none of it is Irish. Of course this is not important to Coelho's non-Irish audience who are reading him for the message in his stories. I just finished The Witch of Portobello and found it much more enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Melling,
being an author myself, I will start with praising your blog. Love it!
I see no literature in Mr. Coelho's books. I read them all. As he says, his critics are admirers in hiding...
I doubt.
Is he a worthy mystic?
I wonder...

Siek said...

Well i loved the book of Brida, but honestly i loved most your crithic! certainly he (Paulo) doesn't have a clue about distances, landscapes, celtic traditions or idiosyncracy there! I am a wican and i find that story so lovable, but being honest... it's just that: a nice story... being and knowing true wiccan takes a lot of experience there in Ireland, and i know it for sure being mexican and haven't been gone to your amazing land. Regards!

Anonymous said...

Despite there being a lot of mistakes I still love the book !

Unknown said...

Never been to Ireland, but the story it is exactly what I know, what I believe in, what I tell my friends and thanks God there is more crazy/romantic/mystical people out of them - Paulo - he is one of a kind :)

Greetings from Poland <3