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An Beal Bocht and An Toileanach: Writing on the Margin--Gaelic Glosses or Postmodern Marginalia?

 ... the sad, ravaging mental attitudes that result from severe
 poverty--materialism, opportunism, suspicion, the closed mind,
 stupidity, the lack of definite identity.., the prevalence of
 and thievery, and the strange, predominant sense of evil and
 Listening to that list you might think this is a gloomy book, a
 anatomy of melancholy and malaise. (Kennelly 93-4) 

The publication in the Irish Times on 13 December 1941 of a review--possibly penned by Brian O Nuallain--intimately linked the just-published An Beal Bocht with Tomas O Criomhthain's An tOileanach (1929). (1) The reviewer, F. O. R, advanced the notion that "An Beal Bocht pretends to be still another of the autobiographical sagas we have had from the West, indeed, in certain aspects of language and style it directly parodies O Criomhthain's fine book, An tOileanach" (O Conaire 331). (2) This pronouncement firmly and resolutely charted its critical trajectory: henceforth An Beal Bocht and An tOileanach would be symbiotically linked. An Beal Bocht's debt to the genre of gaeltacht (auto)biographies/memoirs is undeniable (O Healai; de Paor 1998). Consequently the issue of the most appropriate genre in which to situate An Beal Bocht and its creative, narrative, and structural debt to other texts--primarily An tOileanach--has dominated and obscured critics' ability to see it as its own independent text. Awareness of the literary, linguistic, and cultural backdrop is essential, but it is, nevertheless, an independent work of art (Titley 49-50). While criticism of his English-language novels has blossomed, positioning him as an important post-modernist and an unrecognized genius worthy of his place in the international (post)modernist canon--along with Beckett, as Ireland's second significant post-Joycean modernist (Deane; Brown)--criticism of An Beal Bocht seems anchored down by inevitable comparisons to An tOileanach. (3) A reading of the marginalia in Brian O Nuallain's personal copy of Ah tOileanach not only explicates the relationship between these two texts, but clarifies his attitude toward O Criomhthain's book and sheds critical light on his own work and how we might read it.

Despite Breandan O Conaire's immense scholarship in Myles na Gaeilge, our understanding of that inspiration is blurry and misconstrued. O Conaire asserts: "Ta fianaise threan ann, idir sheachtrach agus inmheanch, a leireodh go ndeachaigh dirbheathaisneis Thomais Ui Chriomhthain go mor i bhfeidhm ar Bhrian O Nuallain, agus gur shiolraigh teacs, cail agus fiuntas an leabhair sin abhar, friotal agus tinfeadh do An Beal Bocht" [There is strong evidence, both external and internal, to illustrate that Tomas O Criomhthain's autobiography greatly influenced Brian O Nuallain and that book's text, fame and worth provided subject matter, language and inspiration for An Beal Bocht] (ctd. in O Conaire 120). Stressing O Nuallain's admiration for O Criomhthain's text and in particular the islander's rich lexicon, O Conaire cites a "Cruiskeen Lawn" article (17 January 1955) where he declared unequivocally that: "One of the finest books I have read in any language is An tOileanach by a Blasket islander, now dead ... every page is a lesson how to write, it is all moving and magnificent" (120). And again "The stranger is advised that it is worthwhile to learn the Irish language to read this work. Against it about 90% of books in English, with their smear of sophistication, fall into the ordained bin of trash" (Myles na gCopaleen, The Best of Myles, 389). On varying occasions, O Nuallain lauded the text as "magnificent, unique, great, really fine, majestic" (O Conaire 120). In his "Cruiskeen Lawn" column (3 January 1957)--four years after the island's evacuation--Myles accentuates his esteem for the 1929 text: "That book, An tOileanach, is the superbest of all books I have ever read. Its sheer gauntness is a lesson for all ... The book was published about 1930 and disturbed myself so much that I put it away, a thing not to be seen of thought about and certainly not to be discussed with strangers. But its impact was explosive. In one week I wrote a parody of it called An Beal Bocht" (ctd. Asbee 71).

While O Nuallain's respect and admiration for An tOileanach is beyond question, the precise aspect of the text that so disturbed him remains a matter of conjecture. What caused the "impact" that led him to "parody" it--if it is indeed parody--in An Beal Bocht? O Conaire suggests the impact was primarily linguistic and stylistic: "... go hairithe ar 'theanga' agus ar 'stil' an leabhair" [especially on the book's language and style] (122). A possible solution to this persistent question may rest in the O Nuallain annotated copy of An tOileanach preserved at Boston College. The front piece is signed in black ink "Brian O Nuallain 1939" and contains eight annotations. This essay describes these annotations and considers how they may shape our understanding of the scribe's relationship to the text and how readers might reconsider An Beal Bocht in their light.

The first annotation occurs on page 13 where the word "lutalaidhe" in the sentence "Lutalaidhe cnuic is guirt dob' eadh e" [He was a fumbler on the hill and in the field] (p. 7) is underlined and in lead pencil appears on the margin the word "cringer:' While "lutalaidhe" does not appear as an entry in Dinneen's Focloir Gaedhilge agus Bearla / An Irish-English Dictionary (2nd enlarged edition 1927, reprinted 1934, 1941), (4) "lutail" is defined as:
 act of saluting, louting or bowing; making up to, fawning, cringing,
 crouching; handling, fumbling; b'fhearr dhuit gadhair an bhaile
ag 1.
 timcheall ort na aoinne aca ag amhstraigh ort, it were better for you
 that all the dogs in the village should fawn on you that any of them
 should bark at you (saying); ag 1. ar a cheile, making up to one
 (Dinneen 689) 

The next annotation occurs on page 15, where the word "t-arthach" in the sentence, "An bhliain do bhuail an t-arthach so ar an dTraigh Bhain, ni cuimhin liom-sa san, mar na rabhas ann na suil go mbeinn" [The year this ship was wrecked on the White Strand I can't remember, for I wasn't born or thought of in those days] (p. 9) is underlined. On the margin, in Irish, appears "long mhor." This annotation recalls 11 January 1941 "Cruiskeen Lawn"-prior to the publication of An Beal Bocht--where, considering native speakers' vocabulary, he opined:
 Your paltry English speaker apprehends sea-going craft through the
 infantile cognition which merely distinguishes the small from the
big. If
 it's small it's a boat, and if it's big it's a
ship. In his great book,
, however, the uneducated Tomas O Criomhthain
 uses, perhaps a dozen words to convey the varying
 long, soitheach, bad, naomhnog, bad raice, galbhad, pucan and
whatever you
 are having yourself. 

The focus on page 37 remains lexical: "Gearrcach"--the first word on page 37--is underlined in the sentence "'Gearrcach sicin iseadh e,' arsa bean an tighe, 'pe riach ruda thug ann e" ar sise" ["It's a young chicken," said the woman of the house, "whatever the dickens brought it there?"] (p. 28). Directly above the underlined word appears the gloss "nestling," which is the first entry Dineen provides in his dictionary. While the majority of glosses suggest the annotator to be a keen language student focused on new lexical terms, the annotation on page 83 notes an unintended insertion. A redundant preposition--"in"--occurs, and is deleted, in the following sentence: "Ma dhein si an beartu san do chuaidh si chun cinn leis agus niorbh aon ghno breallach a dhein si mar nior cuireadh riamh [begin strikethrough]in[end strikethrough] iaim ar chota do bhi chomh dulta sios leis" (5) [When once she had the idea, she carried it out, and it was a complete success, for no colouring matter ever went so deep into a petticoat as that did] (p. 71). This note appears to be the only quibble--grammatical rather than stylistic--the scribe finds. The lack of such corrections in Ah tOileanach stands in contrast to the copy of the Mo Bhealach Fein [My Own Way] (1940) in the same archival collection. Authored by Seosamh O Griannain the 1930s, Mo Bhealach Fein, was in part inspired by and a response to An tOileanach (de Brun 141-58). The appearance of the cliche "ar chor ar bith" (whatsoever) three times in the space of five lines on page 15 attracted attention. The implied criticism of such over-zealous use of cliche contrasts with their judicious use and relative scarcity in An tOileanach and evokes a "Cruiskeen Lawn" article on 24 February 1942 which proclaimed "An tOileanach ... is not the 'speech of the people' or the 'nice idioms' that confer the nobility of literature on it." Writing on O Nuallain's disdain for cliche, Brendan Kennelly has remarked:
 This love of verbal precision is the expression of an essentially
 imagination. Cliche is not only the truth worn dull by repetition; it
 also be a form of immoral evasion, a refusal to exercise the mind at
 moment when it should be exercised, even to one's own discomfort
 distress. Cliche is also a form of imaginative fatigue, the
 use of listless formula to fill a blank space. (Kennelly 90-1) 

The phrase "la an ghadhtair" is underlined on page 161 in the sentence: "Do h-innseadh di mar bhi, ach ba bheag uirthi ah sceal agus do bhreac si amach do'n bheirt aosta cad e an oibliogaid a leanfadh an te na posfadh duine beal-dorais ach a cheanglochadh le dream eile bhi i bhfad o bhaile agus na bheadh cabhair na congnamh le faghail uatha la an ghadhtair" [We told her how things stood, and she didn't like the idea at all; she made it plain to the old couple what a responsibility anyone was taking on himself ir he didn't marry near home, but made an alliance with a family that lived a long way off and wouldn't be in a position to lend a hand on a rainy day] (pp 144-5). Alongside the three underlined words appears the hand-written phrase followed by a question mark "H.M. normal act?" "La an Ghadhtair, 1941" is the date which Flann O'Brien / An Fear Eagair [The Editor] dated An Beal Bocht's pseudo-preface. Appearing on four occasions in An tOileanach (O Conaire 123), it is synonymous with An Beal Bocht, appearing repeatedly to comic effect.

Page 163 is marked by two annotations; the first of which is among the most cryptic marginalia in this book. The phrase "ni ro fhada bhi an t-am" ["the time was not long"] is underlined in the sentence "ni ro fhada bhi an t-am gur togadh uaim e":
 Do saoluigheadh deichniur clainne ach nior lean an rath iad san, go
 bhfoiridh Dia orainn! An chead duine riamh a baisteadh dom bhi se a
 seacht no a hocht de bhlianaibh nuair a thuit se le faill agus
 marbhuigheadh e. As san amach nior thapula duine orainn na dinn.
 beirt leis an mbruitinigh agus ni raibh galar da dtagadh na beireadh
 duine eigin uaim. Badh Domhnall diarraidh an bheanuasal a thabhairt
 leis ar an dTraigh Bhain. Do bhi buachaill breagh eile agam, ag
 chugham. Ni ro fhada bhi an t-aro gur togadh uaim e.
 [Ten children were born to us, but they had no good fortune, God help
 The first ofthem that we christened was only seven or eight years old
 when he fell over the cliff and was killed. From that time on they
 as quickly as they came. Two died of measles, and every epidemic that
 came carried off one or other of them. Donal was drowned trying to
 the lady off the White Strand. I had another fine lad helping me.
 I lost him, too.] (p. 147) 

On the same page appears an ink line beneath the two words "glaodhadh uirthi" ["she was called/summoned"] in the final sentence on this page: "Bhi naoidhnean beag 'n-a diaidh--ach go raibh cailin beag fasta suas a thug aire di--ni raibh si ach fasta suas san am gur glaodhadh uirthi chomh maith leo." The entire passage reads:
 Do ghoill buairt na neithe sin go leir ar an mathair bhoicht agus
 uaim i. Ni rabhas dall ar fad go dti san. Nar dalladh Dia sinn. Bhi
 naoidhnean beag 'n-a diaidh--ach go raibh cailin beag fasta suas
a thug
 aire di--ni raibh si ach fasta suas san am gur glaodhadh uirthi chomh
 maith leo. An cailin a thog i sin do phos si sa Dun Mor. Cailleadh i
 leis, agus d'fhag seisear leanbh 'n-a diaidh. Buachaill
amhain ata fanta
 faram annso sa bhaile. Buachaill eile i Meirice. Sin e crich
d'imigh ar
 mo chlainn-se. Beannacht De leo--a bhfuil san uaigh aca--agus leis an
 mnaoi bhoicht gur bhris a misneach d'a ndeascaibh.
 [All these things were a sore trouble to the poor mother, and she,
 was taken from me. I was never blinded altogether till then. May God
 spare us the light of our eyes! She left a little babe, only I had a
 little girl grown up to take care of her; but she, too, was only just
 grown up when she heard the call like the rest. The girl who had
 her up married in Dunmore. She died, too, leaving seven children. I
 only one boy left at home with me now. There is another in America.
 was the late of my children. May God's blessing be with
them--those of
 them that are in the grave--and with the poor woman whose heart broke
 them.] (p. 147) 

Beneath this sentence, in English, is the phrase "alas, those waitresses!" Such a phrase appears to be a cold, emotionless response to a passage describing the untimely death of two young children. The pun's humor stems, in part it seems, from the translation of the autonomous form into English (See Hopper 37-8). While in current convention it describes "the elimination of a contract due to the obligation of delivery" for those conversant with contemporary slang of forties Dublin dining rooms and restaurants, it suggests a waitress excusing delays in service by noting that she had been "called away." Recalling his assessment of An tOileanach in a "Cruiskeen Lawn" article on 24 February 1942 may help to reconcile O Nuallain's respect for O Criomhthain's writing in light of this apparently brusque quip:
An tOileanach
 is literature ... There is no book (of ours or of
 any other tribe) in English comparable to it. And it is not the
 of the people" or the "nice idioms" that confer the
nobility of
 literature on it. The genuine authoritative human stuff is there, it
 artistic, it moves the reader to tears or laughter as the author

Asbee advances the argument that "our ideas of parody have to be adjusted, for it was clearly not O'Brien's intention to denigrate The Islandman. He was so deeply affected--'disturbed'--by the book that his comedy is more likely to have been a cathartic exercise for his own feelings ..." Rather, Asbee contends "the creative energy it inspired had to be 'directed toward other ends'" (Asbee 72). O Criomhthain's nonchalant, almost blase, dismissal of his marriage, and his stoic and remorseless lack of compassion in narrating the death of his wife in addition to the birth and death of several of his children has vexed critics. Yet Asbee tenders:
 The evident emotional restraint in discussing his private life ...
is no
 indication that these are lacking (by contrast, Defoe's Robinson
 marries, has children, and disposes of them all in one paragraph,
 mentioning their names, right at the end of the of the novel) ... But
 never learn his wife's name, or the names of most of his
children ...
 These are only references, but we do not infer that because they are
 apparently marginalized, his emotional distress was concomitant.
 they assume the status and dignity of private grief not to be
 for public examination. (Asbee 78) 

At the end of page 187, which concludes the chapter on the seizure of the islanders' boats and their impounding in Dingle, occurs an arrow directing attention to handwritten text at the foot of the page and the following commentary in English: "all the literatures of the world contain nothing so momentously said as that last paragraph." The paragraph in question is that in which O Criomhthain narrates his mother's death and funeral preparations. The description is both poignant and pregnant with unstated, yet keenly felt, grief. The final sentence encapsulates his emotional turmoil:
 Sara raibh breacadh an lae ann do bhi glaoidhte aige 'go raibh
si seo ar
 a' dtaobh thall.' Do dheineas-sa me fein a ghleasadh agus
m'aghaidh a
 thabhairt ar Dhaingean Ui Chuise d'iarraidh ghleas torraimh.
D'fhan an
 aimsir go breagh no gur shroich mo mhathair a teampall duthchais i
 bhFionntraigh--bothar fada o'n mBlascaod mor, idir fhairrge agus
 agus ce go raibh sochraid mhaith ann, cartacha agus capaill cuid
 is ar ghuaille daoine a chuaidh si go dti an roilig.
 Sin crioch leis ah mbeirt do chuir sioladh na teangan so ina'
 an chead la. Beannacht De le n-a n-anam.
 [Before the dawn came he called out: 'She's in the next
world: I set
 about getting myself ready to face for Dingle to get the furnishings
 the funeral. The weather stayed fine till my mother reached her
 churchyard in Ventry--a long journey by sea and land from the
 and, although there was a fine following of many horsedrawn cars, it
 on men's shoulders that she went to her grave.
 So ended the two who put the sound of the Gaelic language in my
ears the first day. The blessing of God be with their souls!] (p. 170) 

In an introduction to The Third Policeman, Denis Donoghue comments that "it is indeed characteristic of Irish fiction--or at least of Irish anatomies--to stand aside from the common urgencies of feeling and to treat the whole farrago of sensibility as warranting merely speculative attention" (Donoghue xi). Alluding to that novel's murder, Donoghue notes the lack of remorse or moral scruple: "the ethical issue is disposed of in silence. Nature, conventionally a great source of heart-stirring, is not allowed to pour its benisons over the populace. Imagine how a traditionalist novelist, his humanism flowing, would have developed a paragraph that started by taking note of the arrival of the evening" (xi). Such also is the case here. O Criomhthain, the Blasket islander, refuses to seek shelter in humanistic warmth. He seeks neither empathy nor compassion. The hand-written gloss not only recognizes but celebrates this refusal to submit to convention; it coolly rejects an opportunity to wallow in standard tropes of loss and cliched pieties, the chance to connect and form a sympathetic bond with the reader. As Donoghue observes, the refusal of humanistic warmth "is endemic in modern literature, not merely in Irish literature ... Empathy is humanistic, responsive to the shared travails of human life. Abstraction interposes the artist's mind, puts a distance between that mind and the given world, and consults the artist's desire and its cool, self-propelling forms" (xii). Hence the comment's perspicacity: it recognizes the modern nature of the writing, and more importantly the modern sentiment underpinning it. It is the style of saying or, more precisely, its artistic style of not-saying, which is "momentous" and which presages post-modernist strategies of silence, kinds of silence and non-verbal communication. An tOileanach, in discarding the obvious, anticipates the postmodern strategy of rejecting Western aesthetics central to the postmodernist project. The annotation elevates the context in which the scribe reads and considers O Criomhthain's work from a minor, regional, Irish literary discourse to a global discourse and should, this essay contends, invite a similar international consideration of An Beal Bocht, its strategies, styles, and motifs.

Returning to the lexical level evident in the earlier glosses, the final annotation focuses on an idiom. On page 209 the phrase "ach nar ghnath-bheas again dul fe loch" (but it was not our habit to dive) is underlined in the sentence "Do bhi cuid aca nar chuaidh on tsaile riamh agus cuid eile again go raibh snamh maith again ach nar ghnath-bheas again dul fe loch" [That was what should be done; but where were the two to go under water? That was the problem. There were some of them who'd never been in the sea, and others of us who could swim well enough, but we hadn't the habit of going under] (p. 191). O Conaire reveals that the phrase "fe loch" occurs frequently in An Beal Bocht (O Conaire 153). This idiom appears in An Beal Bocht on pages 81-7, 82-31, 83-14, 83-16, 84-29, 85-5, 86-1, 101-16, and particularly in chapter seven where the text caricatures the seal hunt as depicted in An tOileanach and the location of the underwater cave where Sitric elects to remain rather than endure the severe austerity and damp deprivations of Corkadoragha.

What, if anything, do these glosses tells us of the annotator's relationship to An tOileanach and what guidance do they provide for (re)reading An Beal Bocht? If nothing else the marginalia reaffirms O Nuallain's deference and admiration for An tOileanrach--"all the literatures of the world contain nothing so momentously said as that last paragraph" is as resounding a commendation as one could find not only commending its style but placing it on a global literary stage. It is, however, the troubling and somewhat disturbing response to the girls' deaths that ultimately proves most revealing. Rather than elicit a culturally appropriate or emotionally sensitive response, we find human loss and tragedy educes nothing but black humor--a key postmodernist trope. In a similar vein, the glossing of "la ah ghadhtair" as "H.M. normal act?" adheres to the ironic style associated with postmodernism and adds a political dimension to the context. Is there a case then to reread An Beal Bocht in light of these glosses as a proto/early postmodernist text or a late-modernist transitional text (Hopper 158).

Critics generally consider An Beal Bocht and Mairtin O Cadhain's Cre na Cille [Churchyard Clay (1948)] to signal the demise of the gaeltacht autobiography as the dominant prose form in Irish-language literary discourse, at least in critical circles if not in popular circles (Nic Eoin 211; Titley 50, O'Leary 462-3). These two novels ultimately signaled the end to the uncritical depiction of gaeltacht life and the exaltation of a materially poor but spiritually and culturally wealthy lifestyle (O Torna). Internecine tensions, pressures, and strife had found delineation in previous authors' work in English and Irish, but O Cadhain, as Robert Welch contends, was radically new: "... O Cadhain differs is in the degree of intense detail he gives. He takes the reader into the interiority of the situation; so that, while the situation is traditional the method is modern" (Welch 189). The privileging of O Cadhain's Freudian and Jungian psychological approach (De Paor) all too often relegates O Nuallain's work to that of simple parody. Yet as Richard Murphy argues in a recent article: "Since the publication of At Swim-Two-Birds, he has been categorized, along with Beckett, as Ireland's second significant post-Joycean modernist (Seamus Deane); a precocious postmodernist (Keith Hopper); a practitioner of Menippean satire (Keith Booker); and the postcolonial exemplar of the Bahktinian dialogic novelist (Kim McMullen)" (Murphy 67). Nevertheless criticism of An Beal Bocht remains rooted in debates over influence, literary borrowing, genre, and authorial intent. However, in his exploration of An Beal Bocht as a possible naturalist work, Richard Murphy argues convincingly that critics mistakenly associated the text with the modernizing naturalist project, whose genre of choice is the realist bildungsroman of thwarted development. Instead, Murphy argues for a "minor"--in David Lloyd's sense--reading: "O'Brien's critique is different from a corrective naturalism or demystification, nor still is it the voice of the subaltern speaking back to the obscuring and distorting discourse of outsiders, since the novel resists the very claims of authorship required to mount such a reality-based critique." For Murphy then "the episodic structure, the lack of character development, the 'nonoriginal' obedience to conventional setting, idiom and plot" actas "deliberate tools, in a project at once closer to the native satiric tradition in classical Irish literature and to the anti-realism of Beckett and Joyce" (Murphy 70). Contending that O Nuallain manipulates the literary cannon to "disrupt, contaminate and rebuke it" while simultaneously drawing on "the tradition of porous generic boundaries, anarchic satire, grotesque fantasy and a nonchalance towards plagiarism" he concludes that O Nuallain "infuses the autobiographical frame-tale of origination, development and identity with a healthy dose of mimicry, repetition and identity-theft," and he also argues that, "[e]ven the illustrations and maps recall travel writing and the field-work of the legions engaged in formal or informal anthropology, ethnology and auto-exoticism in the Gaeltacht ..." (80)

Ignoring the unconventional chronology in terms of literary and cultural history, this essay argues that An Beal Bocht (1941) is analogous to At Swim-Two-Birds (1939) and anticipates and incorporates many of the stylistics, tropes and techniques that would become fundamental to postmodern aesthetics. If we acknowledge the intertextuality, the spatial distortion, the dismissal of the origin myth and national narratives, it seems logical to proffer An Beal Bocht not only as the first post-modernist Irish-language novel but to examine ir more closely in terms of At Swim-Two-Birds and similar postmodernist works as it appears to be closer in style and temperament to Kurt Vonnegut and William Burroughs than Tomas O Criomhthain. The use of grotesque distortion to mock received wisdom and approved values; the list of ridiculous pen-names at the Feis; hybrid language; repletion of cliches; metafiction and collage of Free State novels and autobiographies; disparaging of rationality; privileging of the figural over the discursive; and stressing of prescriptive elements of the genre over the interpretation--all point, if seems, toward a postmodern literary sensibility. If the gaeltacht autobiography was deeply rooted in an anthropological-linguistic discourse, the text that brought about a seismic re-evaluation in how the genre was received and interpreted was less a modernist text concerned with identity, unity and cultural authority, but one which promoted plurality, textuality, and skepticism. O Cadhain and O Nuallain and a handful of others, to paraphrase Philip O'Leary, kept faith with the past in the best possible way, by giving it genuine relevance in the present and meaningful access to the future through challenging creative works (O'Leary 463). The author of At Swim-Two-Birds, in reading An tOileanach, saw the modernist essence in the midst of the memoir--concreteness, objectivity, and strictness--and through a postmodernist reconfiguration, represents it in his own words from his own mouth in a potent rather than poor fashion. In conclusion, positioning An Beal Bocht in a "late-modernist transitional" or early post-modernist context not only broadens our critical horizons but sharpens our critical and cultural perspectives. Ir challenges us to look beyond the simple context of autobiographies and Free State fiction: cliched descriptions of An Beal Bocht as satire, parody, and/or comedy no longer suffice.


Asbee, Sue. Flann O'Brien. Boston: Twayne Publishers. 1991.

Brown, Terence. "Two Post-modern Novelists: Beckett and O'Brien" The Cambridge Guide to the Irish Novel. Ed. J. W. Foster. London: Cambridge Univ. Press 2006, 205-22.

De Brun, Fionntan. Seosamh Mac Grianna: An Mhein Ruin. Baile Atha Cliath: An Clochomhar Tta., 2002.

De Paor, Louis. Faoin mBlaoisc Bheag Sin: an aigneolaiocht i scealta Mhairtin Ui Chadhain. Baile Atha Cliath: Coisceim, 1991.

--. "Myles na gCopaleen agus Drochshampla na dDealeabhar." The Irish Review, 23 (Winter 1998), 24-32.

Dinneen, Patrick S. Focloir Gaedhilge agus Bearla / An Irish-English Dictionary. Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1927.

Donoghue, Denis. "Introduction" The Third Policeman. Dalkey Archive Press, 2006. v-xiii.

Hopper, Keith. Flann O'Brien: A Portrait of the Artistas a Young Post-modernist. Cork: Cork Univ. Press, 1995.

Kennelly, Brendan. "Brendan Kennelly on An Beal Bocht by Myles na gCopaleen (1911-1966)." The Pleasures of Gaelic Literature. Ed. John Jordan. Cork: Mercier Press, 1978. 85-96.

Kiberd, Declan. "An Beal Bocht agus ah Bearla." Comhar 43:4 (1984), 20-27.

McKibben, Sarah E. "The Poor Mouth : A Parody of (Post)Colonial Irish Manhood." Research in African Literatures, 34:4 Winter 2003, 96-114.

--. "Ah Beal Bocht: Mouthing Off at National Identity," Eire-Ireland: Journal of Irish Studies (Spring/Summer 2003), 6-41.

Murphy, Richard T. "'A Root of the New Sprout'?: Flann O'Brien, Minor Literature and the Modern Gaelic Canon." "Is It About a Bicycle?": Flann O'Brien in the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Jennika Baines. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011, 67-82.

Nic Eoin, Mairin. An Litriocht Reigiunach. Baile Atha Cliath: An Clochomhar Tta., 1982.

O'Brien, Flann. The Best of Miles. Normal: Dalkey Archive Press, 1999.

O Conaire, Breandan. Miles na Gaeilge. Baile Atha Cliath: An Clochomhar Tta., 1986.

O'Leary, Philip. Irish Interior: Keeping Faith with the Past in Gaelic Prose 1940-1951. Dublin: Univ. College Dublin Press. 2010.

O Torna, Caitriona. Cruthu na Gaeltachta 1893-1922. Baile Atha Cliath: Cois Life, 2005.

Titley, Alan. An tUrsceal Gaeilge. Baile Atha Cliath: An Clochomhar Tta., 1991.

Welch, Robert. Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing. London: Routledge, 1993.

Wong, Donna I. "Following the Law of the Letter: Myles na gCopaleen's An Beal Bocht." New Hibernia Review / Iris Eireannach Nua, 4:3 (Autumn, 2000) 93-106.


(1) This essay is predicated on the notion that the Brian O Nuallain alone annotated the copy of An tOileanach bearing his name and contained in his personal library. The author thanks the following for discussing various aspects of this topic: Brendan Kane, Richard Murphy, David Horn, and the Burns Library staff.

(2) Talbot Press published an English-language translation of An tOileanach in 1934 that was followed by an American English-language edition in 1935. Talbot Press and Chatto & Windus republished the translation in 1937. Subsequent editions include: Penguin 1943; Oxford University Press 1951, 1958, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1971 (twice), 1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1992. Die Boote fahren nicht mehr aus : Bericht eines irischen appeared in 1991 and L'homme des iles in 2003. All English quotations in this essay are taken from the 1979 Oxford University Press edition.

(3) Notable exceptions include Kiberd, McKibben and Wong who offer new interpretations including gendered, postcolonial readings.

(4) The well-thumbed Dinneen in the O'Nolan archive lacks a title page, but based on the preface and pagination it appears to be the 1934 edition. My thanks to Shelly Barber in ascertaining this information.

(5) O Coileain (p. 80) offers "Ma dhein, ni raibh a machnamh i vasta, mar nior cuireadh riamh ruaim ar chota do bhi chuin dulta sios leis."
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Author:O Conchubhair, Brian
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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