In The Voyage of St Brendan, A.B. Jackson tells the tale of the legendary seafaring Irish abbot in poetry and prose. After burning a book of fantastical stories, Brendan is compelled to sail the ocean with a crew of six monks in a leather-skinned currach; his task, to prove the existence of wonders in the world and create a new book of marvels. Discoveries include Jasconius the island-whale, a troop of Arctic ghosts, a hellmouth of tortured souls, a rock-bound Judas, and the magical castle of the boar-headed Walserands. Although the roots of this legend lie in early Irish tales and the Latin Voyage of Brendan the Abbot of the ninth century, Jackson has taken the 14th-century Middle Dutch version of Brendan’s voyage as the template for this engaging, witty and spirited interpretation, notable for its humour and inventiveness. The book is beautifully illustrated with a series of black and white linocuts by the American artist Kathleen Neeley, one of which features in color on the cover.
A swirl of animals and monsters and miraculous things, an amazing sea voyage in the way of Coleridge’s Rime and Melville’s Moby-Dick, A.B. Jackson’s imaging of Brendan’s founding myth is a modern fable of the patron saint of whales. Jackson’s exquisitely subtle, uproarious, comical and transcendent work is extraordinarily concise and beautiful. Its words relish and reinvent The Voyage of St Brendan as a Dark Age rollercoaster ride.' – Philip Hoare