The ginger man,: A novel Hardcover – 1958
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Top Customer Reviews
There are no demarcations in this book. Dangerfield heads down to the area of Dublin near the sea. We are wondering at this point if he is swindling a woman he seduced, or preparing to keep his word and take this woman away from her evil father. As he goes about his ambivalent doings, Dangerfield thinks of creatures that inhabit the rock pools of this seashore, cut off from the ocean in what he calls their "crystal cradles".
There's no danger of living in a rock pool when you read The Ginger Man. The ocean rolls in, sweeps over little ponds and takes you away.
You could say Dangerfield is a loveable rogue, but you'd be wrong. He won't stay in any rock pool for loveable rogues. Dangerfield is a monster. He is lovable. It is remarkable that Donleavy got those two things to exist so powerfully together. I suppose, as Booth Tarkerton said in relation to one of his own loveable rogues, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repented than over all the saints who consistently remain holy.
Technically the writing also avoids rock pools, switching between first and third person.Read more ›
Modernism as part of its very foundation sought to shock people. I think of Sebastian Dangerfield as a literary equivalent of the shock-rocker Marilyn Manson. Will reading how Sebastian hits his wife make readers hit their spouse? Will listening to Marilyn Manson turn people into gothic murderers? Everyone has their own opinion as answer to those questions but it seems obvious to me that readers (and music listeners) need to realize that human beings are not the sugar coated ladies and gentlemen of yore. People do some terrible things. Everyone has a dark side, no matter how slight. I was not at all offended by The Ginger Man. Perhaps it was the fact that I was introduced to the text in the anything-goes Modernist context, perhaps I am a little too liberal. I will always find this book uproariously funny though. I can always side with a character that can make commentary on the human condition without doting clichés. I can at once laugh at Sebastian and be amused by him, without being "on his side" - his very dark side.
Apparently the Ginger Man was turned down by something like 40 publishers before finding it's way to the mainly pornographic publishers Olympia Press in Paris. Despite turning out mostly smut, Olympia owner Maurice Girodias also published some early works by the likes of Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, Henry Miller and Jean Genet amongst other rising literary talents of the time.
I mention the publication as it's interesting to note that Donleavy entered into 20 plus years of litigation with the publishing house. He eventually won the case and subsequently owns Olympia Press.
But anyway, the book. It is, for better or worse, very real. The "hero" Sebastian Dangerfield is a reluctant family man and a reluctant student of law. He just doesn't care about the things which we assume he should care about. He is constantly in a state of scheming his way into the next free drink, or getting into the knickers of an easily led girl. He has no morals, nor does he feel that he should have. He is banking on an inherited wealth which will be his once his sick father dies.
The style of the book is modern for the time of it's writing. Donleavy uses both the first person narrative and the third person narrative to illustrate his main character.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a most singular book. I first read it in the 1970's and have rediscovered it. Still very funny. The letters will stay with you for a long time.Published 6 months ago by Kym Y. Rabone
Very much of its time and, re reading this for the first time in forty years one is surprised at the outrage that its supposed obscenity created. Read morePublished 13 months ago by The Nawab of Pitullie