Review of ‘The Lady and the Dragon’ by Ruth Finnegan ****

The Lady and the Dragon

The Lady and the Dragon

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Maire, and she is sitting by the Donegal Sea. There was also a huge dragon; alone, ugly, unloved by everybody. The dragon wakes and stirs. He smells something, a little girl. He takes flight, roars, swoops on her. A little angel begs him not to swallow Maire, but he ignores him, and he has his little morsel. There is no mercy, no universe. Only him, his sins, and his need to swallow. Yet he wanted something, but did not know what. He only knew he wanted. Maire, star of the sea, light of the ocean. He had eaten her and she is inside him, a great lonely nothingness. He wanted a universe and see light, but there was only the black, silent void and endless emptiness. He saw a little spark almost beyond his senses. Was it his creation? The dragon puffs mightily and the little acorn in Maire’s heart sprouts. Slowly at first, then it sent out roots, then twigs and branches, and the universe came into being. The heavenly choir burst into song to praise this creation. But this was not the end of the tale, because there was no one in his universe to live happily ever after. Will the lonely dragon ever find love, sunshine, happiness?

With The Lady and the Dragon, readers will be confronted with a severe sensory double-take, shock almost. Despite the poetic writing, this is not a children’s tale, but a foray into sophisticated mysticism and deep philosophy that drags various myths into a trembling, coherent whole. Ruth Finnegan spins a very adult tale wrapped in simple writing that hides deep spiritual thinking. Despite its apparent simplicity, The Lady and the Dragon is difficult to read, and some readers might reject it outright, expecting a more traditional prose in its telling. Some of the words appear to be rambling and irrelevant, but they are pearls within an intricate web that contributes to a strangely moving and satisfying ending. Despite awkward, but perhaps deliberate, formatting, readers are urged to persist until the end where everything is answered. A most thought-provoking tale.

This story is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Ruth Finnegan

I am an Emeritus Professor at the Open University, OBE, Fellow of the British Academy and Honorary Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford. I am the author of multiple award-winning works.

I was born in 1933 and reared in Ulster and Donegal in a family committed to reconciling the deep divides in Ulster and the world. I went to a Quaker school in York, followed by an Oxford degree in classics and philosophy. Then fieldwork in Africa, an Oxford doctorate in literary anthropology, university teaching in Africa, then many years with the pioneering Open University (UK) where I am now an honorary research professor. I live in Bletchley in south-central England with my husband of fifty years and two dogs, and have three wonderful daughters and five grandchildren.

I have published over twenty academic books, primarily in literary and linguistic anthropology, music ethnography, and cultural history, and have a continuing interest in modes of communication and its application in our past, present and future.

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