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At Swim, Two Boys (2001)

av Jamie O'Neill

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
2,116557,623 (4.2)139
"Set in Dublin, At Swim, Two Boys follows the year to Easter 1916, the time of Ireland's brave but fractured uprising against British rule. O'Neill tells the story of the love of two boys: Jim, a naive and reticent scholar and the younger son of the foolish aspiring shopkeeper Mr. Mack, and Doyler, the dark, rough-diamond son of Mr. Mack's old army pal. Doyler might once have made a scholar like Jim, but his folks sent him to work, and now, schoolboy no more, he hauls the parish midden cart, with socialism and revolution and willful blasphemy stuffed under his cap." "And yet the future is rose, Jim's father is sure. His elder son is away fighting the Hun for God and the British Army, and he has such plans for Jim and their corner shop empire. But Mr. Mack cannot see that the landscape is changing, nor does he realize the depth of Jim's burgeoning friendship with Doyler. Out at the Forty Foot, the great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the scandalous nude, the two boys meet day after day. There they make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, Easter 1916, they will swim the bay to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (mer)
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Plot summary
Set in Dublin before and during the 1916 Easter Rising, At Swim, Two Boys tells the love story of two young Irish men: Jim Mack and Doyler Doyle. Jim goes to school on a scholarship (for which he is looked down upon) – he is quiet, studious, thoughtful, and naïve. In contrast, Doyler is outspoken, rebellious, brave, and affectionate. Doyler might once have received a scholarship, like Jim, but Doyler withdrew from school to find work and support his impoverished family, leading the pair to grow apart. They have an additional connection through their fathers, who served in the army together during the Boer War, and were once best friends.

Events of 1915
Jim attends a Catholic school, regularly attends church, and plays in the school's flute band, where he is the object of his Latin teacher's obsession. Brother Polycarp likes to have extra prayer sessions with him alone, during which Jim is subject to mild sexual pawing whose nature he does not understand; Jim reminds Polycarp of his own past. Unbeknown to his father, Jim is offered the chance of a vocation to join the brothers of the church. When Doyler joins the flute band, their old friendship is renewed. Doyler takes Jim out to the Forty Foot a well known swimming area in Dublin Bay for a swim. The two boys make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, on Easter Sunday, 1916, they will swim to the distant island of Muglins Rock and claim it for themselves. As their friendship grows, Jim reconsiders his vocation, ultimately refusing; Brother Polycarp is emotionally stricken and has to resign. Meanwhile, patriots appear on the novel's stage: Madame Eveline MacMurrough continues to support the idea of Ireland's liberty. The clergy also supports the patriotic body of thought, in particular, Father Amen O'Toiler – who pushes the boys church's flute band to resemble a regimental band. Even Jim's father, Mr. Mack, who is proud having served as a soldier in an Irish Battalion, is swollen with pride for the boys in MacMurrough's garden, seeing them all in uniform kilts.

Only Anthony MacMurrough, the nephew of Eveline MacMurrough, turns away from their politics. After his return from imprisonment in England, for acts of gross indecency, his nationalist aunt Eveline MacMurrough is determined to redeem his reputation through a prosperous marriage. In a garden party, Eveline MacMurrough introduces him to Irish society, pushing him to follow her patriotic ideals. However, MacMurrough is still caught up in his memories of imprisonment, conversing with the internal voice of his dead prison-mate, Scrotes, on the fate of homosexuals.

In the meantime, Doyler works to help support his family, which has been driven to poverty by Mr. Doyle's alcoholism and illness. Doyler accepts payment from MacMurrough in return for sexual favours. Although Doyler is depicted as accepting his own sexuality, his response to the older man is ambiguous and ultimately MacMurrough fails to attract the boy. Doyler, being a vehement Socialist and outcast from the society of his home community, leaves home and joins the Irish Citizen Army at Dublin.

Events of 1916
Jim, bereft of the pal of his heart Doyler, befriends MacMurrough, who becomes a mentor to Jim, teaching about swimming as well as homosexuality and philosophy. MacMurrough finds that he is unable to rid himself of his fascination with the two boys, their relationship and their pact to swim to the Muglins and claim them for Ireland. The night before Easter Sunday, Doyler leaves his duties as army member and visits Jim. They renew their pact, confessing their love for each other. The next morning, Easter Sunday, Jim and Doyler successfully swim to the Muglins. Not only do they claim the islands with an Irish green flag, but they also make love to one another. On their swim back to the Forty Foot, as Doyler is close to drowning, MacMurrough rescues both of them.

While Doyler rests and recovers at MacMurrough's house, Jim feels responsible for the duties his friend cannot carry out. As the Easter Rising takes place, Jim grabs the uniform of Doyler and joins the fighting for the Irish Volunteers at Dublin downtown. Meanwhile, MacMurrough does not realize Jim's action.

When Doyler discovers what Jim has done, both Doyler and MacMurrough go searching for Jim. As they approach downtown Dublin where the fighting is occurring, Doyler sees Jim standing in the open. Just as the two are about to be reunited, Doyler is himself fatally wounded.

Characters
Jim is the son of shopkeeper Mr. Mack, who runs a small shop for everyday people's needs at Glasthule, close to Dublin. Jim is depicted as a naïve scholar boy and has a shy appearance:[4] Jim Mack is worried about self-abuse and going to hell as he tries to obey to rules of church. He responds to the more experienced Doyler with friendship, which turns to love – possibly even desire, but recoils from Doyler's movements towards intimacy; he would love to kiss his friend, but cannot. Despite his naivete and inhibitions, he has a clear mind, sharp ideas and thoughts. He sees the pact with Doyler to swim to the Muglins as a symbol of their union, their very own experience which no one can take from them.

Doyler is the rough diamond son of Mr. Doyle, who is Mr. Mack's old army pal. Doyler has grown up in poverty, hence he already knows quite a lot about life and is in no way naïve. Doyler used to be Jim's friend when they were about twelve, but Doyler left town for some time looking for work and his Irish roots . As Doyler returns, and the story unfolds, Jim and Doyler are both aged 15 to 16 years old. Doyler is sympathetic to the Irish workers front and later joins the Irish Citizen Army.

Madame Eveline MacMurrough is depicted as the daughter of a republican figure famous in the history of the local patriotic movement. In the name of Ireland she supports the troops at the Western Front with socks to warm the soldiers' feet, and organizes a garden party to enliven the patriotism of the local society and to support its clubs. Finally, she even backs the Republicans by providing them with weapons for the Easter Rising.

Anthony MacMurrough is the nephew of Eveline MacMurrough. Jim calls him McEmm as the story develops. Prior to the novel's action, MacMurrough has served a prison sentence in England of two years' hard labour for acts of gross indecency with a chauffeur-mechanic boy. As he returns to Ireland, his previous cellmate Scrotes follows in his mind, providing an internal ghostly friend, supporting the soliloquizing of MacMurrough. He stays at the home of his nationalist aunt Eveline MacMurrough, who pushes him to become a patriotic Irishman, mentoring and leading the young, and, in her imagination, eventually marrying. MacMurrough conforms to some degree but recognises his homosexuality as a permanent character trait. It is only when he becomes a mentor to Jim and Doyler individually, teaching them about swimming as well as homosexuality and philosophy, that he finds some degree of personal fulfilment.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( )
  aliexpo | Nov 24, 2023 |
Love... this book , the story in it , the characters , the style of the author , the portrayl of Ireland and its people , Love.

But , it's not a walk in the park , ( or a swim in the kidde pool) , the first fifty pages or so are a challenge. Jamie'O Neil's style is something all it's own and takes some getting used to. In the first bit , the style is difficult because you are unused to it , and little of anything exciting happens at all , those two facotrs together make for a boring introduction. But I promise you , if you stay with it , you will be rewarded , entertained ,and moved deeply.

O'Neil has a flair for character creation and dialogue. You'll find once the novel is over , the characters and thier personalities linger. There's Doyler , a brilliant , hard working , and unqestionably honourable youth with some very rough edges and a penchant for impishness. Jim , the reticent scholar who grows wonderfully through the course of the narrative , from a shy , subjected boy , to an experienced , deep young man. And then there's MacMurrough a Wildean gentleman exiled to the Emerald Isle for charges of lewdness and misconduct. Originally a bit of a bitter pill to swallow , MacMurrough becomes one of the most memorable , and indeed the most humourous , of characters on his road from boy-prostitue solicitor to "deccent chap" , advisor , and mentor.

The language of the book , while a bit confusing at first , adds believeability and cultural flair to the whole work.

This is a powerful book and very much worth anyones while , though don't expect to get through it without a several laughs and a a few tears...

( )
  Autolycus21 | Oct 10, 2023 |
I found the first third of this book quite difficult, as I don't have any Catholic or Christian background, nor any particular interest in Ireland. The former meant that many of the purportedly meaningful or symbolic elements just passed me by, while the latter made the frequent exposition on Irish independence irritating and the political motivations of the characters hard to connect to. McMurrough was a selfish bore, his aunt was a self-righteous bore and Jim's father was just a bore. The exceptions were the two protagonists, Doyler Doyle, whose youthful socialism I could at least understand and relate to, and Jim, who was a sensitively drawn character who developed throughout the story.

The middle third is dominated by the story of Jim and Doyler, so I enjoyed it much more. The final third gets a bit preposterous, and it still isn't clear why Irish independence is important.

The writing throughout is somewhat pretentious, with the rather clumsy use of a very highbrow vocabulary. At least some of O'Neill's use of words I wasn't familiar with didn't seem appropriate when I looked the words up in the Oxford English Dictionary. There are excellent sections, however, and I would describe this as a promising novel, but well short of a masterpiece. ( )
  robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
Ambientada en Dublín, en el año previo a la Pascua de 1916, el momento crucial del levantamiento de los irlandeses contra el gobierno británico; "Nadan dos chicos" cuenta la historia de amor de dos muchachos. Jim es un estudiante ingenuo y reservado, el hijo pequeño de Mr. Mack, un presuntuoso aspirante a tendero. Doyler, un diamante en bruto, es hijo de un viejo compañero de armas de Mr. Mack. Doyler podría haber tenido la misma vida que Jim pero sus padres le obligaron a trabajar mientras ideas blasfemas, socialistas y revolucionarias, bullían en su cabeza. El padre de Jim está seguro de que el futuro le sonríe. Su hijo mayor está luchando en el ejército y tiene planes ambiciosos para Jim y sus negocios. Pero Mr. Mack no alcanza a ver que el paisaje está cambiando, ni se da cuenta de la creciente amistad entre su hijo y Doyler. Junto al acantilado donde suelen ir los hombres a bañarse, los dos chicos se encuentran día tras día. Allí sellan un pacto: Doyler enseñará a Jim a nadar y en el trancurso de un año alcanzarán a nado, atravesando la bahía, el distante faro de Muglins Rock, y reclamarán la isla para sí. "Nadan dos chicos" ha sido una auténtica revelación en Inglaterra e Irlanda por su magistral narración del conflicto que ha perseguido a Irlanda durante siglos. Esta novela no es sólo una tierna y trágica historia de amor, sino también un relato sobre personas atrapadas en la marea de la historia, en un lugar y una cultura a la vez desconocidos e inolvidables.
  Natt90 | Mar 29, 2023 |
I hesitated to give this book four stars. For one, parts of it were incredibly hard to get through: The Irish dialect shaped the syntax and the diction in every way imaginable, and O'Neil seemed to want to investigate every character in a sometimes long-winded manner. I also felt uncomfortable when characters did or said things that pushed the boundary, that seemed uncharacteristic, that confused me. I also felt like Jim was a little boring as protagonist--sort of like Harry Potter, an aimless, hesitant, bland character, though brave. (That's not to say that his development as a person wasn't fascinating, because it was--the way he grew to accept himself was realistic and beautiful.) The sex scenes also seemed weird to me, probably because I've never encountered gay sex in literature before.

I loved Jim's relationship with Doyler. I loved the way O'Neil handled sexuality. I loved the language and I loved the characters.

The ending was what pushed me over the edge from three to four. So hard-hitting. ( )
  Gadi_Cohen | Sep 22, 2021 |
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Part One 1915:

I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other's necks;

By the love of comrades.-------
Walt Whitman
Part Two 1916:
ecce abstulisti hominem de hac vita, cum vix explevisset annum in amicitia mea, suavi mihi super omnes suavitates illius vitae meae.

St. Augustine
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à Julien

mon ami, mon amour
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There goes Mr. Mack, cock of the town.
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'Would age forbid them?'

'Rather youth permits. The not knowing and the slowness of days. Lack of imagination may move mountains.'
I wasn’t being thick, nor mean, he wanted to say. It’s not the time for a boy to be a man. Wait till the war was over.
'Damn it all, MacMurrough, are you telling me you are an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort?'
'If you mean am I Irish, the answer is yes.'
Pleasant to swim in the rain, they say. It would lower your temperature already so the rain wouldn’t feel so cold. It would be hard getting in, you’d have to push yourself, but were you in already, that would be pleasant. That would be a freedom, to be out in the rain and not to trouble. Your trouble in your pile of clothes.
Freedom was never to be given or argued for: it might only be taken.
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Wikipedia på engelska (1)

"Set in Dublin, At Swim, Two Boys follows the year to Easter 1916, the time of Ireland's brave but fractured uprising against British rule. O'Neill tells the story of the love of two boys: Jim, a naive and reticent scholar and the younger son of the foolish aspiring shopkeeper Mr. Mack, and Doyler, the dark, rough-diamond son of Mr. Mack's old army pal. Doyler might once have made a scholar like Jim, but his folks sent him to work, and now, schoolboy no more, he hauls the parish midden cart, with socialism and revolution and willful blasphemy stuffed under his cap." "And yet the future is rose, Jim's father is sure. His elder son is away fighting the Hun for God and the British Army, and he has such plans for Jim and their corner shop empire. But Mr. Mack cannot see that the landscape is changing, nor does he realize the depth of Jim's burgeoning friendship with Doyler. Out at the Forty Foot, the great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the scandalous nude, the two boys meet day after day. There they make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, Easter 1916, they will swim the bay to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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