Brad Kent, Ed. the Selected Essays of Sean O'Faolain

By Matthews, Kelly | English Studies in Canada, March 2017 | Go to article overview

Brad Kent, Ed. the Selected Essays of Sean O'Faolain


Matthews, Kelly, English Studies in Canada


Brad Kent, ed. The Selected Essays of Sean O'Faolain. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's UP, 2016. 518 pp. $34.95.

In his 1978 compilation The Best from The Bell, Sean MacMahon opined that "One excellent anthology would be the collected editorials" of the magazine (9). Many years later, this wish has been improved upon by Brad Kent, who has edited a selection of essays from the long and prolific career of Bell editor Sean O'Faolain, among Ireland's leading public intellectuals of the twentieth century. In addition to his six-year stint at the helm of The Bell, O'Faolain was a novelist, biographer, and tireless advocate for liberalism and literary freedom. Above all, he was a writer. This collection gives us a welcome opportunity to appreciate O'Faolain's voice, his lively, wide-ranging interests in the arts, public policy, and politics, and his humorous skewering of others in the public eye whose conservatism gave him fits.

Kent prefaces this volume with a cogent, clear introduction, depicting O'Faolain as a committed interventionist in a conservative post-revolutionary society. As Kent points out, O'Faolain's essays are merciless in their critique of Free State policies, but "what constantly shines through them is a hope for reform, even if it is reform by increment" (xii). Over the course of five decades, O'Faolain sparred with the Board of Literary Censors, the Gaelic League, and the Catholic hierarchy, among others, and his writing career provides a cultural topography of postindependence Ireland in a way that few literary histories can achieve.

What is most exciting is that this book offers a new opportunity to view the arc of O'Faolain's development as an essayist. His early pieces lack the sharp edge of his later work for The Bell, but the familiar themes and acerbic wit are already emerging. In the 1930s, O'Faolain was developing his anti-establishment public voice and was working to find his ideal audience. He wrote and published multiple essays from the vantage point of an Irishman in the United States, while on fellowship at Harvard; Kent includes several from journals such as The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Commonweal, and The American Mercury. (One of these, on land reform, helpfully glosses Irish country estates as "ranches" for American readers [50].) From his stateside perspective, O'Faolain also contributed to an Irish Statesman series on censorship, protesting book banning in Boston, alongside writers such as Yeats, Shaw, and who were growing increasingly concerned about the broad reach of censorship at home (xxii).

But it was when he returned to Ireland that O'Faolain hit his stride as a literary and political commentator. In 1932, writing for The New Statesman and Nation, he voiced his early opposition to Daniel Corkery's essentialist view of Irish identity, what O'Faolain called the "submerged Celt theory" of hidden Ireland (29). …

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
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 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 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.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Brad Kent, Ed. the Selected Essays of Sean O'Faolain
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
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
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.”

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 8, MLA 7, 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." (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.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    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.