Review by Hugh McFadden

Insight into a mixed-up, ultimately ruined genius

The Collected Letters of Flann O’Brien. Maebh Long (ed.). Dalkey Archive Press; 603pp; €20; 23 cm; 978-1- 6289-7183-5.

EXTRACT:

In his relatively short life and misfortunate writing career the novelist Brian O’Nolan, a.k.a. Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen, seems to have been a patient in almost every hospital in Dublin, apart from the maternity hospitals. For years before he died of cardiac arrest at the age of 54, he suffered from a succession of serious illnesses, including respiratory problems (he was a heavy smoker), stomach illnesses including gastroenteritis (he was a heavy drinker), liver disease (alcohol again), and for some time before a heart attack killed him he was being treated for throat and neck cancer. The death certificate may have specified cardiac arrest as the cause of death, but the real underlying cause was addiction to alcohol and nicotine, the dreadful ‘lifestyle’, as the Irish euphemism has it. And the extraordinary thing is, that right up to his death, O’Nolan in his correspondence professed himself mystified as to why he was repeatedly ill: an example of the ability of the alcoholic to blind himself to the reality of alcoholism. […]

Content is restricted to subscribers – to continue reading please log-in via Exact Editions or contact us about a print or digital subscription.

books ireland logo green
September/October 2018(issue no.381)


September Book Competition

The Mooske & the Gripes

by James Joyce

A companion volume to The Ondt and the Gracehoper (2014)
A fun, accessible introduction to Finnegans Wake
Over 100 full colour illustrations
Introduction by Fritz Senn

ENTER YOUR EMAIL
for a chance to win:

The Moose & the Gripes by James Joyce
ISBN: 978-1-84351-740-5
Publisher: The Lilliput Press


TWITTER

SUBMISSION

Books Ireland is looking for new writers. Read our full Submission Guidelines

ADVERTISING

Do you want to Advertise with us? To know more about us and to download our rate card click here

‘Books Ireland provides a breathing space, a garden if you will, where literature may continue to be valued for its own sake and discussed and appreciated in a climate of intellectual freedom and relaxation.’
Eamonn Kelly, playwright and award-winning short-storyist
‘An indispensable institution for reader, writer and bookmaker alike.’
Antony Farrell, publisher at Lilliput
‘Books Ireland is a creative asset for writers, editors, publishing houses and the media, and is a unique record of publishing in Ireland.'
Michael O’Brien, O’Brien Press
‘Books Ireland performs an invaluable service in broadcasting to the wider literary and book-reading world the variety of publishing enterprises in Ireland’
R. F. Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford
SHS

WP Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com