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March 14, 2022

#ReadingIrelandMonth22 Frank O’Connor

by NancyElin


The Best of Frank O'Connor by Frank O'Connor by Frank O'Connor Frank O’Connor

Finish date: 12 March 2022
Genre: 6 essays
Rating: D-
Review: The Best of Frank O’Connor (ISBN: 9780307269041)


Bad news: Very disappointed with the 6 essays I selected in this book. I’m even having a hard time writing a review about it! If these writings are considered ‘O’Connor’s best’…then I have been deceived.

Bad news: I keep kicking myself for not having read some short stories in this book instead of the essays. O’Connor is called the Irish Chekhov…so he must be doing something right!

Good news: I did discover one of O’Connor’s books that I ordered from UK. It was $$ but is what I’m looking for. Hopefully I will learn more in his lectures given at Trinity University Dublin than what I read in this book: A Short History of Irish literature: A backward look (1968)

Personal: In hindsight these essays were a waste of time. They lacked depth and I felt that the essays were “…phoned in!” I will at least include my notes. IMO…skip the essays in this book and go right to the short stories…as I should have done!

Introduction to a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:
According to O’Connor  Joyce’s book is compulsory reading for every young man and woman. I wanted to know why? Didn’t really get an answer from this essay. I had no idea that Joyce uses Aristotle’s On the Soul as one the books he consulted while writing his book.

James Joyce: A Post-Mortem:
Such a great first sentence…the best hook: ”I think I almost said ‘Thank God’ when Joyce died.” Frank O’Connor examinations and dissects segments of Ulysses ( worth reading) and Finnegan’s Wake (…a colossal failure.) (pg 192)

My Father’s Son – George Russel and W.B. Yeats:
Portraits of G. Russel (editor of the Irish Statesman) and W.B. Yeats, Irish romantic poet 20th C . The essay read like a New Yorker Magazine profile…a little reporting, commentary, and analysis…but not much.

Silgo and Yeats:
This selection was taken from O’Connor’s traveling writings. It is just a few anecdotes of the friendship between O’Connor and Yeats…nothing impressive. Mentioned is Yeats’s self-penned epitaph: “Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman, pass by.”

Centenary Address at the Graveside of W.B. Yeats:
This address was written on the 100th birthday of W.B. Yeats. O’ Connor’s task is to say a few things Yeats would have liked him to say about his son, his wife and the greatest weakness of the Irish.

The Tailor and Anstey
The Tailor and Ansty is a 1942 book by Eric Cross about the life of the Irish tailor and storyteller, Timothy Buckley, and his wife Anastasia. The book was banned. O’Connor writes a scathing essay on the effects of this ban that proved…years later to have been unjustified.

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