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Gallivanting

Karl Miller: Edna​ O’Brien

22 November 2012
Country Girl: A Memoir 
by Edna​ O’Brien.
Faber, 339 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 571 26943 3
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... They ran that woman out of County Clare,’ said one of the plain people of the West of Ireland, following the notoriety caused by Edna O’Brien’s fine first novel, The Country Girls, published in 1960. The notoriety was echoed in England: the last of England’s eminent Edwardian novelists, L.P. Hartley, described the novel, she ...

Watching Dragons Mate

Patricia Lockwood: Edna​ O’Brien’s ‘Girl’

25 November 2019
Girl 
by Edna​ O’Brien.
Faber, 230 pp., £16.99, September, 978 0 571 34116 0
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... Atypical​ Edna O’Brien story begins on a square of green. A stone farmhouse looms behind, with a slick spot on the flagstones where the same tin can is emptied every morning by the hired man. Pigs are somewhere ...

Dr Vlad

Terry Eagleton: Edna​ O’Brien

21 October 2015
The Little Red Chairs 
by Edna​ O’Brien.
Faber, 320 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 0 571 31628 1
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... with their gusto and geniality, and the kitsch and touchy-feelyism are simply the latest manifestations of this profitable industry. It is fitting, then, that one of the two main characters of Edna O’Brien’s new novel, her first for ten years, is a bogus shaman with more than a faint resemblance to the post-genocidal Radovan Karadžić. Dr Vladimir Dragan, a Montenegrin holy man with white ...

Seeing things

Rosemary Dinnage

4 December 1980
The Story of Ruth 
by Morton Schatzman.
Duckworth, 306 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 7156 1504 1
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... The jacket of The Story of Ruth is adorned with praise from the famous: Edna O’Brien, among others, found it ‘disturbing and quite fascinating’, and Doris Lessing ‘a valuable book, an original’. It is a pity it comes in the kind of packaging that will repel the ...

Crow

Peter Campbell

5 January 1989
The Letter of Marque 
by Patrick O’Brian.
Collins, 284 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 9780241125434
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Klara 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 347 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 241 12527 8
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From Rockaway 
by Jill Eisenstadt.
Penguin, 214 pp., £3.99, September 1988, 0 14 010347 3
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The High Road 
by Edna​ O’Brien.
Weidenfeld, 180 pp., £10.95, October 1988, 0 297 79493 0
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Loving and Giving 
by Molly Keane.
Deutsch, 226 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 223 98346 2
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Tracks 
by Louise Erdrich.
Hamish Hamilton, 226 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 9780241125434
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... beyond the point where it gives a kind of dignity to adolescent gloom. What lifts the book is the sense it gives that, within its formal limits, it is a true first look at life after childhood. Edna O’Brien has given lush local and emotional colour to The High Road. One imagines her narrator, Anna, may be a bit heavy with the scent bottle, just as she herself is with her descriptions of dreams ...

Green War

Patricia Craig

19 February 1987
Poetry in the Wars 
by Edna​ Longley.
Bloodaxe, 264 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 906427 74 6
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We Irish: The Selected Essays of Denis Donoghue 
Harvester, 275 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 7108 1011 3Show More
The Battle of The Books 
by W.J. McCormack.
Lilliput, 94 pp., £3.95, October 1986, 0 946640 13 0
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The Twilight of Ascendancy 
by Mark Bence-Jones.
Constable, 327 pp., £14.95, January 1987, 0 09 465490 5
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl 
edited by John Quinn.
Methuen, 144 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 413 14350 3
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... books under consideration, might give the impression that poetry, or criticism, or the criticism of poetry, is a belligerent business. It doesn’t stop with the book titles, either: the chapter on Edna Longley in W.J. McCormack’s short and contentious study of Irish cultural debate requires us to attend to ‘the reaction from Ulster’, and sums it up thus: ‘Fighting or Writing?’ This ...

On Michael Longley

Colin Burrow: Michael Longley

18 October 2017
... so many of Longley’s friendships and personal associations that, were he not so humorously unassuming, it might seem a wee bit in-groupy: the first poem is dedicated to Fleur Adcock; others are for Edna O’Brien; others modestly describe having his portrait painted. But there is a nice twinkle in Longley’s eye when he remembers ‘That time I shared a lobster with Heaney/(Boston? New York?) he ...

Infante’s Inferno

G. Cabrera Infante

18 November 1982
Legacies: Selected Poems 
by Heberto Padilla, translated by Alastair Reid and Andrew Hurley.
Faber, 179 pp., £8.75, September 1982, 0 374 18472 0
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... of the Beast. Two English writers went to Cuba. One went after Fidel Castro became lord and master of the island or rather archipelago. The other went before and after that unholy second coming. Edna O’Brien, poor girl, visited Cuba the way Alice travelled to the other side of the looking-glass – darkly but gladly. England can be so boring on a wet afternoon! Besides she had never tasted ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Censorship in Ireland

21 March 2013
... of Dublin John Charles McQuaid took a close and personal interest in its affairs. In the early 1960s his actions provoked a wave of controversy, which began with the banning of The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien in 1960 and culminated with the sacking of John McGahern from his job as a primary school teacher in 1965, after the publication of his second novel, The Dark. If the writers of the 1950s ...

The Hero Brush

Edmund Gordon: Colum McCann

12 September 2013
TransAtlantic 
by Colum McCann.
Bloomsbury, 298 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4088 2937 0
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... But his easy way with superlatives means that when he wants to pay a special tribute – to suggest that a writer is even better than Nathan Englander – he tends to lapse into mumbo-jumbo. Edna O’Brien is ‘the necessary edge of who we are … a riverrun writer, bringing us back and propelling us forward’. Don DeLillo’s Point Omega is ‘the one that takes the skin away, that sings ...
24 January 1980
... a decent obituary in the Times and a prize named after him for bright young English and American editors. He also had, and still has, the gratitude and affection of a host of authors as different as Edna O’Brien and Eric Ambler, Ronald Blythe and Antonia Fraser. That, perhaps, is the crucial difference between the two men. Lane was a publisher’s publisher, a man with immense commercial flair who ...
20 November 1980
Selected Poems 1956-1975 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 136 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 571 11644 2
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Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 224 pp., £7.95, October 1980, 0 571 11638 8
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... imprimatur of better-than-average English reviews. And while it is true that some American magazines, notably the New Yorker, have welcomed the talents of John McGahern, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien and Benedict Kiely, among others, one could give long odds against a manuscript by an unknown Irish novelist or poet seeing the light of first publication in Boston or in New York. So it ...

Entitlement

Jenny Diski: Caroline Blackwood

18 October 2001
Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood 
by Nancy Schoenberger.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £20, June 2001, 0 297 84101 7
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... either drank themselves to death or finally got round to doing some work. And the work is at the very least interesting, even if not, as the press handout bizarrely suggests, comparable to that of Edna O’Brien, Iris Murdoch, Muriel Spark and Samuel Beckett (though I wish just for the sake of the gaiety of the nation that someone’s work was comparable with all those writers). The writing strains ...

The Buffalo in the Hall

Susannah Clapp: Beryl Bainbridge

5 January 2017
Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means, a Biography 
by Brendan King.
Bloomsbury, 564 pp., £25, September 2016, 978 1 4729 0853 7
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... out. He was unusual in expressing admiration not only for her much applauded dark comedy but for the depth of her feeling. He was rueful about his tussles with his co-panellists Mary McCarthy and Edna O’Brien when chairing the Booker in 1973. He had wanted The Dressmaker to win. J.G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur – incidentally, the only book by a man on the shortlist – got the award ...

How to be a wife

Colm Tóibín: The Discretion of Jackie Kennedy

6 June 2002
Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
by Jan Pottker.
St Martin’s, 381 pp., $24.95, October 2001, 0 312 26607 3
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Mrs Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 297 64333 9
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... by the superb example of a bereaved First Lady, and Jacqueline Kennedy . . . provided us with an unforgettable performance as the nation’s First Lady.’ Jackie made contact with the Irish novelist Edna O’Brien when O’Brien’s play about Virginia Woolf was in rehearsal in New York. O’Brien wrote about her: So many of her qualities – that breathless enthusiasm, a certain giddiness late at ...

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