Sat, Dec

The Last Irishman: Translated from French to English


THE LAST IRISHMAN was written in 1851 in the form of a historical novel but its uniqueness is that it was actually a real-time report of what was currently happening only a few hundred miles away from its French author, Elie Berthet (1815-1891). The book provides historical information on the six centuries of Irish struggles under British domination, but it mainly concentrates on the situation during the tumultuous 19th century when the Irish miseries had reached a peak during the potato blight of 1845-1852, resulting in mass starvation and emigration. But this story, in particular, focuses on one Irishman’s efforts to mount another insurrection against the British oppressors. The book highlights the courage, resilience and the indomitable spirit of the Irish which enabled them to survive centuries of harsh rule by the British.

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Berthet was an acclaimed historian and novelist, and within a year of writing this book, translations appeared in German, Swedish and Spanish, thus alerting other European communities of the time as to the harsh realities in Ireland Today, with this translation, English-speaking history buffs, and in particular those readers who have a particular interest in Ireland, will enjoy this unique view into the turbulent history of that proud nation.”

About the Author
You may wish to know who I am, what my own connection is to Ireland and why I have translated this book. I am Franco-American, born in Paris of an American father and French mother, but I received the major part of my education in the U.S.  Elie Berthet, the author of this work, was my Great-great-Grandfather, on my French mother’s side. He wrote over 100 books and was one of the leading writers of the 19th century. His works were translated in over 20 languages. I took it upon myself when I retired, to translate those works that had not yet been published in English.

THE LAST IRISHMAN was my third translation of his works.

I was about six months into this translation, when by chance, I learned that in 1859, an Irish writer, C. M. O’Keefe, had done a translation in English of this book that appeared serialized that year in Boston’s Catholic journal, THE PILOT.  I had not previously found it because it had never been published in book form. I continued my own work because I found that the first translator had made some important modifications to the story line including changes in character names and locations, whereas mine follows the author’s original script

Gerry Briggs             
Paris, France
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