Seán O’Faoláin: Literature, Inheritance and the 1930s


Paul Delaney

October 2014

This is an original and timely study of one of the most influential figures in 20th century Irish culture. Seán O’Faoláin’s rich and diverse career spanned many genres – biography, novels, short stories, travel writing and editorship of the hugely influential journal The Bell. Paul Delaney’s insightful study of the times and the themes make this a ground-breaking interpretation of the work of O’Faoláin.


ISBN: 9780716532668 Categories: , , ,


Seán O’Faoláin was one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century Irish culture. A short-story writer of international repute, he was also a leading commentator and critic, and was editor of the landmark journal The Bell. His work was central to the evolution of post-independence Irish writing, and his voice was one of the most prominent, and eloquent, in the fight against censorship in Ireland.

Paul Delaney presents an innovative re-reading and vibrant study of O’Faoláin’s diversity and influence, engaging with the non-fiction as well as the novels and short stories. From the conflicting biographies of Eamon de Valera to the controversies and debates of the 1930s, the importance of O’Faoláin’s legacy and relevance to modern readers is teased out in accessible and original insights.

Table of Contents


Interpretation, Intervention, Revision
1. ‘Quite unnecessary’: The Early Biographies
2. ‘Let Ireland begin’: King of the Beggars
3. Iterations and Revisions: De Valera

Literature Revivified?
4. Modulated Perspectives: Midsummer Night Madness
5. ‘Rising in the world’: A Nest of Simple Folk
6. Faust Under The Weather-Fish: Bird Alone
7. ‘It’s hard to tell…’: A Purse of Coppers
Postscript: She Had to Do Something

About the Author

Paul Delaney is Lecturer in Irish Writing in the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. His publications include the edited collections Reading Colm Tóibín (2008) and William Trevor: Revaluations with Michael Parker (2013).