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5.8 MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS, 6. HUMANITIES, Literary theory, 6.4 ART
This chapter will interrogate and assess the substantial body of journalistic work of Irish novelist Brian O’Nolan, considered to be one of the founding fathers of the postmodern novel, as exemplified in his classic works At-Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman. Locating his satirical journalism in the context of the Swiftian tradition from which it stems, O’Nolan’s journalism will be read in the societal content in which it was produced: namely 1940s, 1950s and 1960s Ireland, decades in which the country was marked by widespread censorship, increased Church influence on the affairs of state, economic stagnation and sexual repression.
Concentrating on O’Nolan’s ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ column, which appeared regularly in the Irish Times from 1940 to 1966, under the pseudonym Myles na gCoplaeen, the incredible breath of of this body of work will be considered as ‘literary journalism’. In what sense does it confirm and subvert the ‘literary’ genre of journalistic writing? How is the work journalistic and/or literary? Indeed, does this amount to journalism at all or is ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ primarily a literary intervention through the popular press by an ambitious writer of fiction?
These questions will be considered though a reading of the hilarious journalistic output of O'Nolan, as he satirized the emerging Irish state in the pages of the Irish Times, a traditionally Unionist newspaper trying to reposition itself in the new realities of the fledgling Irish Republic.
Kilroy, Ian (2014) ‘Never Myles from the News: the ‘Meta-Journalism’ of Myles na gCopaleen', Keeble, Richard Lance and Tulloch, John (eds) Global Literary Journalism Vol. 2, New York: Peter Lang.