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No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O'Brien Hardcover – Mar 1998

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Hardcover, Mar 1998
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Presents the life and career of the Irish novelist, including his childhood, his days as a newspaper columnist, his marriage, and his final days.

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Useful, entertaining, and occasionally frustrating 12 Dec. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Cronin is an affectionate biographer but thankfully not a hagiographer. His personal acquaintance with Brian O'Nolan gives him insight into the various personal and artistic personae that O'Nolan adopted: Flann O'Brien, Myles na gCopaleen, etc. Cronin spends too much energy speculating as to why O'Brien never managed to fulfil the artistic potential of his first two novels. It is, perhaps, unfair to fault Cronin, as this failure frustrates anyone who has read O'Brien's early work. However, Cronin's tone occasionally becomes pious and judgemental of O'Nolan. One wishes this tone would have extended to other aspects of O'Nolan's life (specifically the personal); Cronin evokes and explains the mind set of Dublin in the early to mid twentieth century, but he seems wary of really examining it. In all fairness, that might have been another book altogether. In sum, the book is readable, often as funny as O'Brien himself (and occasionally just as sad), and useful for the student of Flann O'Brien. It fills
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Essential reading for Flann O'Brien fans 25 Aug. 2000
By johnny2bad - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is the definitive biography, whatever quibbles one may have with the author's judgments, aesthetic or otherwise, about O'Nolan's life or art. Think instead about what you get with this book: an author who knew the subject personally, in-depth research into O'Nolan's origins and childhood, an intimate knowledge of the Irish literary scene in the interwar and postwar years, and the ability to show how these shaped the subject intellectually and psychologically. I disagree with a few of Cronin's assessments: I think The Dalkey Archive was the pinnacle of O'Nolan's novelistic achievements. While I agree he should have written more novels, I also feel that his time writing newspaper columns was well spent; there's more wit in most of those columns than in many novels by lesser writers. This book satisfies one of the most important criteria of a biography, that it be a good read in and of itself: Cronin is an excellent writer.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful view of Dublin literary and middle classlife 9 Jan. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully written book about a brillant frustrated man, who was a great novelist, newspaper columnist and a competent bureaucrat at the same time. Interesting to an American for that insider's look at those segments of Irish life, it is also valueable to an Irish American Catholic for it is explanation of how O'Brien's convinced Catholicism limited his intellectual curiosity.
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