Ronald L. Dotterer Having published in 1962 his third novel, The Hard Life, as a "perfect corrective to the lachrymose pomposities that infect our times," Brian O'Nolan--who wrote under the pseudonyms Flann O'Brien in his novels and Myles na Gopaleen in his newspaper columns--appealed to the editor of London's Spectator, complaining of the Irish Times's low pay, editorial ignorance, censorship, and "mutilation" of his columns.1 Oppression was something O'Nolan understood, most often facing it down with his own brand of fierce creative provocation. He was certain, for example, that the anticlerical elements in The Hard Life--its character's evocative name Kurt Fahrt, S.J., for example--meant the Censorship Board would ban the book's sale in Ireland. O'Nolan gathered his likely defense and envisioned a test case to rival the litigation over Joyce's Ulysses. The anticipated ban did not materialize, and O'Brien's novel sold out in Dublin in two days. From its scrappy start, Flann O'Brien's literary reputation had grown into establishment status equal to any post-Joyce Irish novelist. Yet Flann O'Brien spent his entire literary career in Joyce's shadow. Critical comparison with Joyce has been frequent, as have analytical comparisons of their fiction, but less often has an awareness of
New Hibernia Review – Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
Published: Sep 8, 2004
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