The Writer Who Forgot He Wrote; He Was the Jewish Man of Letters Who Discovered Neil Jordan and Patrick McCabe but with the Onset of Dementia David Marcus Made His Greatest Discovery. Himself

Daily Mail (London), May 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Writer Who Forgot He Wrote; He Was the Jewish Man of Letters Who Discovered Neil Jordan and Patrick McCabe but with the Onset of Dementia David Marcus Made His Greatest Discovery. Himself


Byline: by Dermot Bolger

FOR Ireland, World War II was an incontinence that happened elsewhere, an elephant in the corner officially referred to as 'The Emergency.'

Strict censorship meant that the Irish public (assured by the Irish Press that nothing that was happening to the Jews in Europe was worse than what was happening to the Catholics in Northern Ireland) had little sense of ongoing events.

Those who tried to keep abreast were not always encouraged to do so -- in 1942 The Cork Examiner even castigated 'uninformed citizens'

for 'paying too much attention to the war'. Not everyone could afford this indifference.

Remembering his war-time childhood, David Marcus -- who was born in Cork in 1924 and was cremated yesterday after a humanistic ceremony in Mount Jerome -- noted that 'Cork's 400 Jews knew from letters and messages smuggled out what was happening to their co-religionists in Germany, knew that the 5,000 Jews of Ireland had been marked down for slaughter in due course. (I still remember) when hour after hour I stayed awake listening for the tramp of Nazi boots on Cork's innocent streets and for the panzer divisions raging through the Mardyke.'

Perhaps such fears were ingrained because some relatives had left Limerick for Cork as a result of what was called 'The Limerick Pogrom' against Jews in 1904 -- an overblown name in terms of the real pogroms that were to follow elsewhere, but enough of a warning to know that true safety could never be guaranteed. Thankfully, the foreign invasion that carried Marcus beyond the tiny close-knit Jewish community in Cork came not from Nazi tanks, but from the influx of books the young man eagerly read.

With his death last weekend, Ireland has lost a champion of literature, a great encourager of successive generations of Irish writers, someone who created the space for work by new writers to appear in a time of censorship -- subtle and unsubtle, official and unofficial -- and financial austerity.

Ireland also lost a true gentleman with remarkable stories to tell and a gentleman who, tragically, in recent years encountered increasing difficulty in telling them.

In recent years, I interviewed David Marcus several times. Each time he was a pleasure to meet, but -- like a set of lights slowly going out -- each time he could recall fewer of his amazing memories.

I was involved in making a film about him, directed by Pat Collins, called David Marcus: A Celebration.

As it was commissioned from Harvest Films for Cork County Council's Library Services, it has never been broadcast nationally. However, RTE or TG4 should show it now, because it is not just a celebration of our most extraordinary literary editor but also a remarkable portrait of the dignity, acceptance and intelligence with which an ordinary man confronted the consequences of a stroke.

David Marcus was 21 years old when he started a literary quarterly called Irish Writing. He may have been an outsider -- unknown, Jewish, based in a provincial city and (in a literary world that revolved around pubs) a teetotaller. But from the start, he wanted not just to find new writers but to provide an Irish platform for our greatest living writers.

Reading that Liam O'Flaherty (at the height of his fame after John Ford's adaptation of The Informer) had arrived home from America to stay at the Gresham Hotel, Marcus hesitantly called to reception, not expecting to be shown into the writer's room, let alone be instantly promised a new story, with O'Flaherty telling the young man that: 'Whatever you're paying the others will do me.'

Three weeks later O'Flaherty sent a telegram from his native Aran Islands: 'Story ready. Send money.' With borrowed money, Marcus paid for one of O'Flaherty's great masterpieces, The Touch.

The post bought another manuscript, with James Stephens (the diminutive Dubliner to whom James

Joyce had entrusted the task of finishing Finnigans Wake, should Joyce not lived to do so) sending his most famous short story, A Rhinoceros, Some Ladies And A Horse, with a note suggesting the story 'wasn't halfbad', but the young man was free to send it back. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Writer Who Forgot He Wrote; He Was the Jewish Man of Letters Who Discovered Neil Jordan and Patrick McCabe but with the Onset of Dementia David Marcus Made His Greatest Discovery. Himself
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.