Read The Crock of Gold (Revised Edition) by James Stephens Online


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 astonisTruly 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 astonishing story of what happens when Pan shows up in Ireland, what Angus Og does about it, and what becomes of the Daughter of Murrachu who gets caught in between them. A mad-cap quest ensues as fairies, leprechauns and a philosopher being hunted by the police all get involved in the antics of the two gods....

Title : The Crock of Gold (Revised Edition)
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781406830279
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 116 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Crock of Gold (Revised Edition) Reviews

  • Elizabeth Clemens
    2019-03-04 09:34

    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.

  • Margot
    2019-03-04 08:34

    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 insistent? We do not know we have digestive or circulatory organs until these go out of order, and then the knowledge torments us. Should not the labours of a healthy brain be equally subterranean and equally competent? Why have we to think aloud and travel laboriously from syllogism to ergo, chary of our conclusions and distrustful of our premises? Thought, as we know it, is a disease and no more. The healthy mentality should register its convictions and not its labours. Our ears should not hear the clamour of its doubts nor be forced to listen to the pro and con wherewith we are eternally badgered and perplexed." (p. 86)"Do you know that talk is a real thing? There is more power in speech than many people conceive. Thoughts come from God, they are born through the marriage of the head and the lungs. The head moulds the thoughts into the form of words, then it is borne and sounded on the air which has been already in the secret kingdoms of the body, which goes in bearing life and come out freighted with wisdom. For this reason a lie is very terrible, because it is turning mighty and incomprehensible things to base uses, and is burdening the life-giving element with a foul return for its goodness; but those who speak the truth and whose words are the symbols of wisdom and beauty, these purify the whole world and daunt contagion. The only trouble the body can know is disease. All other miseries come from the brain, and, as these belong to thought, they can be driven out by their master as unruly and unpleasant vagabonds; for a mental trouble should be spoken to, confronted, reprimanded and so dismissed. The brain cannot afford to harbour any but pleasant and eager citizens who will do their part in making laughter and holiness for the world, for that is the duty of thought." (p. 130)"The ability of the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath for anger was unbounded. She was not one of those limited creatures who are swept clean by a gust of wrath and left placid and smiling after its passing. She could store her anger in those caverns of eternity which open into every soul, and which are filled with rage and violence until the time comes when they may be stored with wisdom and love; for, in the genesis of life, love is at the beginning and the end of things. First, like a laughing child, love came to labour minutely in the rocks and sands of the heart, opening the first of those roads which lead inwards for ever, and then, the labour of his day being done, love fled away and was forgotten. Following came the fierce winds of hate to work like giants and gnomes among the prodigious debris, quarrying the rocks and levelling the roads which soar inwards; but when that work is completed love will come radiantly again to live for ever in the human heart, which is Eternity." (p. 197)

  • Bonadext
    2019-03-20 07:51

    Una favola come metafora della vitaAssurdo, fantastico, fantasmagorico, esilarante, non-senso, brillante, folle ed assolutamente intelligente! Questi sono gli aggettivi che mi vengono in mente quando penso a questa sorta di favola-geniale che è “La pentola dell'oro”.Un viaggio sulla vita pieno di significati, attraverso un mondo fatato tra folklore e mitologia, filosofi, bambinetti, Dei, filastrocche e giochi di parole... un vortice magico che ci coinvolge dalla prima all'ultima pagina, che il grande scrittore Stephens (adesso capisco perchè era osannato da quel folle di Joyce!) ci sublima con una scrittura semplice, con qualcosa di unico... per chi vuole leggere qualcosa di insolito, per chi ama le favole ma non solo, questa “pentola” contiene una delizia vera e propria. Solo per veri buongustai!

  • Molly G
    2019-03-11 04:47

    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 stories (either the sudden introduction of new characters who hijack a chapter or two before it returns to the established ones, or a cameo persona telling a new story within the narrative) which ultimately add up to the whole; as well as the totally fantastic and abstract nature and tempo of events which nonetheless feel rooted in the culture and explored philosophies.A wonderful trophy, surprise, and read.

  • Marne
    2019-03-08 11:29

    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 when I was reading every William Butler Yeats poem I could find, and I found resonances in the older poet's "Song of the Wandering Angus." Thus not only did Stephens introduce me to Irish mythology (and his playful version of it), but The Crock of Gold is one of the books that first delighted me with endless possibilities of thought and language. I will try to find a new copy of it.

  • J.M. Hushour
    2019-02-24 09:41

    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 Man...from the hands of doctors and lawyers".

  • Lucy
    2019-03-21 05:38

    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 within the pages of this wonderful book!For those who are not aware of the book, there are but a few scant lines in wikepedia! The book was written whilst James Stephens was working as a clerk in a solicitor's office in Dublin in 1911. It comprises of 6 parts, during which you meet two philosophers and their wives and children, who for reason is best known to them, have swapped. Pan makes an appearance as do lots of leprechauns, gold is lost and found and in amongst all this you are treated to some most profound wisdom!Such as:“What the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow”― James Stephens, The Crock of Gold"Women are wiser than men because they know less and understand more." As you can tell by the later the book airs on the side of political incorrectness but to be honest I loved it all the more for it!I lost myself in this book on a glorious sunny day and the next day went on a bike ride through the woods and pictured leprechauns hiding under all the tree stumps!It's a magical read and I can't recommend it enough! Thanks again to Tom for the heads up! Made me want to read Jitterbug Perfume again too!To close with what Tom had to say:"I'd like to think that more readers, young and old, might discover the book. "

  • Tim
    2019-02-27 11:26

    This is a hard book to describe. The plot, as much as there is one, involve two philosophers, a bunch of leprechauns, a crock of gold, two gods and police who can’t be bothered to investigate. It is a rambling book, where characters come and go as the author seemingly gets tired of them. The plot takes a backseat to philosophical conversations in which whatever character the philosopher meets will put their world outlook and it he will ignore them and put out his own (usually after they ask him a question and he responds with some variation of “I didn’t” or “I will not”).If it is so rambling and unfocused plot, why give it four stars? As a literature professor of mine once said, “plot isn’t everything”. This book is not only hilarious, but many of its philosophical points are quite interesting. Some conversations go on way too long, but it feels very well thought out (or humorously and purposely not thought out at all depending on the character). The book is comedy gold (pun only slightly intended) with many laugh out loud moments and some great descriptions of the actions taking place.Now, I must make note that I’m not from Ireland nor have I made a great study of Irish myths and legends. Thus I feel I missed out on part of it, as the story involves a great deal of folklore characters and without this knowledge, the last chapter especially is confusing. That said, much of it is straight forward and I do believe at least enough of them are common enough knowledge that most of the book will be easily understood.All in all, this book is a joy to read. Extremely funny and thoughtful. I truly wish it was more well known. The book is in the public domain, so I highly suggest seeking out a copy.

  • Thomas
    2019-03-17 10:41

    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 bicycles, alas.)Humorous and satirical, but shot through with a subtle vein of melancholy. A tad shaggy perhaps, but immensely entertaining.

  • Steve Morrison
    2019-02-18 08:43

    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 bizarre to imagine. An unexpected discovery in a dusty used bookstore, this is a book I treasure.

  • Steve Morrison
    2019-03-20 04:33

    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.

  • Gary
    2019-03-18 06:33

    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.

  • Liz
    2019-02-26 06:28

    This book changed my view on life.

  • Jonathan Bogart
    2019-02-26 11:47

    My first, earliest, and maybe deepest love in literature was the cozy British fantasy of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, but I'm much more likely to care about the writers who influenced them than the hundreds and thousands of the writers they influenced whether positively or negatively. I can't recall coming across a reference to James Stephens in the mountains of Lewisiana I consumed between the ages of ten and twenty, but his name's unmemorable enough that it would easily have slipped my notice; in any case, it's hard to imagine that the phantasy-obsessed Ulster-born Clive Staples wouldn't have been all over the most famous Irish fairy-tale novel of the 1910s, and its special brew of folkloric fantasy, vaudevillian repartee, and Yeatsian philosophizing.I've owned a physical copy of The Crock of Gold for going on twenty years, and only got a few chapters into it before being distracted by other things; now, half a continent away from that stored book collection, I read a scanned public-domain copy on my iPad, a chapter a night, for over a month. It's been a lovely palate-cleanser, especially as set against some of the severer novels I've been reading concurrently. (Stay tuned.)Part of the reason I abandoned it the first time through was disgust at Stephens' epigrammatic misogyny, more in the tiresome, jollying vein of a music-hall act complaining about the missus than in that of the high-brow Shavian wit he seems to aspire to. Spending a lot of time with 1910s fiction has probably desensitized me there, and I've been able to compartmentalize my reading so that I can appreciate Stephens' droll wit, vaulting imagination, and subterranean socialism despite the sexism; and on a much less articulate level, there are prefigurations of Narnia all over this book, but especially in the back half, and I'll probably never be able to not be thrilled by that.

  • Sandra Bunting
    2019-03-21 09:50

    This is brilliant.

  • Clark Hays
    2019-02-24 09:51

    “…hunger and love and curiosity are the great impelling forces of life.”Apparently, the god Pan is occupying my thoughts. After finishing The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, my next book happened to be Crock of Gold, by James Stephens. Stephens is an Irish writer and, like Machen (who was Welsh), was steeped in the myths and legends of Ireland. Crock of Gold, first published in 1912, is about what happens when the god Pan visits Ireland and draws the attention of Angus Og, the Celtic god of love and poetic inspiration, and Pan’s frenemy. It revolves, loosely, around the lives of two philosophers, and their wives, and their constant bickering and deep thinking. There are also children and shepherdesses and leprechauns and all manner of enchantments. I’m not sure I “got” the central theme, if there even was one, but it’s fair to say I enjoyed the book. Stephens had something important to say, lyrically and with good humor, about a huge variety of topics, including:The differences between men and women —“Men are not fathers by instinct but by chance, but women are mothers beyond thought, beyond instinct which is is the father of thought.”The human condition — “We must not be slaves to each other, and we must not be slaves to necessities either. That is the problem of existence. There is no dignity in life at all if hunger can shout ‘stop’ at every turn of the road and the day’s journey is measured by the distance between one sleep and the next sleep. Life is all slavery, and Nature is driving us with whips of appetite and weariness; but when a slave rebels he ceases to be a slave, and when we are too hungry to live we can die and have our laugh.”His distrust of distaste for the police, specifically, and the law in general — (speaking of ants which, like other species, don’t need police) “…these races are free from crime, that such vices as they have are organized and communal instead of individual and anarchistic.” And, “…man should always obey the law with his body and always disobey it with his mind.”His dread of work routines — “The day seemed to be so long. It rolled on rusty hinges that could scarcely move. Each hour was like a great circle swollen with heavy air, and it buzzed into eternity.” (That’s my work day, every day…) His distrust in modern society and religion — “What is Nature at all but a word that learned men have made to talk about? There’s clay and gods and men, and they are good friends enough.” His belief in the power of love —“…the Philosopher kissed her with such unaccustomed tenderness, and spoke so mildly to her, that, first, astonishment enchained her tongue, and then delight set it free in a direction to which it had long been a stranger.”The final chapter in the book, when the whole ancient world seems to show up to right wrongs and challenge those who lost their way in modern society, practically sings with hopefulness — “…in what prisons are ye flung? To what lowliness are ye bowed? How are ye ground between the laws and the customs?” And, “Come to us, ye lovers of life and happiness. Hold out thy hand—a brother shall seize it from afar.We need more of that hopeful magic energy today. That’s probably why I enjoyed the book so much. Definitely recommend.

  • Eleanor Toland
    2019-02-21 11:50

    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 gods and a shepherdess, and a lot of stirabout. It's an endlessly surprising, often absurd book — the image of a leprechaun questioned by the police is a fitting cover — but the story is no frivolous romp. Stephens's wit is always tempered with wistfulness, and his comic fantasy has a melancholy subtext. A fairy being arrested by the police is not just an an entertainingly bizarre image but a symbol of the violence of the collision of modern and myth in Stephens's 1912 Ireland, of the spiritual aridity of twentieth century life. Along with the many Irish mythological and folkloric characters depicted in The Crock of Gold, Stephens includes an outsider, a visitor from classical Greece. This visitor is Pan, god of shepherds, a goat from the waist down. Pan's reasons for coming to Ireland are never alluded to, but Stephens's reasons for using him in the novel speak for themselves. Goat legs are an inescapable symbol of the human race's primal origin and nature. As Pan himself puts it: Man is a god and a brute. He aspires to the stars with his head, but his feet are contented with the grasses of the field, and when he forsakes the brute upon which he stands then there will be no more men and women and the immortal gods will blow this world away like smoke.Stephens finds true beauty in the bizarre. To paraphrase Derek Mahon, The Crock of Gold is a book about the sublime that lurks at the heart of the ridiculous. It's a book that deserves far more readers.

  • William Korn
    2019-02-22 09:49

    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, Angus Og, for the love of "the most beautiful girl in the world".In its turn this tale covers the battle of the sexes, honor, avariciousness, the true meaning of wisdom, the relative importance of intellect and emotion, determination, and the conflict between the works of man and those of nature -- all in a mere 116 pages. This book is written in such flowing meter that it ought not be read silently, but aloud. Parts of it could easily be sung. It would be helpful, however, for the speaker to be familiar with Gaelic so names of personages and places can be recited without embarrassment.

  • Bookish
    2019-03-15 05:40

    This is a golden oldie: a mad experimental novel that blends fantasy and social commentary. James Stephens, a central figure in the Irish Literary Revival, created a realm of philosophers and leprechauns and mythical creatures. In this novel there is the otherworldly but there’s also the suggestion of a real world of hardship and need. Creatures in different stages of bewilderment and enlightenment abound. Nature is magical and animals and humankind are not quite created equal. Dogs “are a most intelligent race of people” whilst fish are “a dirty, sly, and unintelligent people.” In The Crock of Gold folklore crashes headlong into mystical insight. Descriptions of the machinations of nature in all its darkness and light are lyrical and vivid, “the sea leaps upon the shingle panting for joy, dancing, dancing, dancing for joy…” —Jess Kidd (

  • Charlene
    2019-02-28 06:53

    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 very specific in it's lyrical power, and I was not always as appreciative of the digressions at the expense of plot, even when I recognized that this was a very artistic decision. I picked up this story to read because I read once that it was Gene Kelly's favorite book, and because of that I was very interested in finishing the novel. It is definitely unique, and if you have any interest in Irish folklore, I think this will be a great read for you.

  • Levanah
    2019-03-18 05:35

    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 artful writing, profound insights, and twinkling humour! Pure delight! The world is vastly richer because this man chose to tell us a tale.My daughter and I agreed last night to stop after two chapters and resume the story on subsequent evenings. I am barely able to refrain from sneaking into her room and reading ahead!

  • Rob
    2019-03-12 04:47

    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 Irish twist. But Stephens quickly returns to the plot, including some memorable characters and scenes. Written in 1912, I think this book is best understood within the context of its times as a celebration of Irish culture and mythology.

  • Jason Downey
    2019-02-22 05:38

    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 remember.

  • Trisha
    2019-03-07 12:30

    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 know for sure.

  • Dan
    2019-03-17 12:36

    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
    2019-03-05 11:51

    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.

  • Wreade1872
    2019-02-28 11:35

    Philosophical story featuring leprechauns, policemen and the Great God Pan. Funny, occasionally depressing and very thoughtful. The leprechaun story elements seem a little confused and some of the descriptive or philosophical passages can be a bit long. However i REALLY enjoyed this one and tore through it very quickly.

  • Peter Brockert
    2019-03-12 06:45

    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.

  • Aaron Smith
    2019-02-26 08:29

    A romp.This book is hard to describe. It is a chaotic fairie tale. I hardly know what to make of it, but it was so fun. I haven't read anything like it. Plenty to ponder and laugh about.

  • Arrow
    2019-03-19 08:47

    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.