Novelist, short-story writer, critic, memoirist, broadcaster and journalist: Benedict Kiely (1919–2007) was not only one of the best known but one of the most artistically and culturally distinctive men of letters of his day. His fascination with the island of Ireland, the myths and memories of its people, and the many-voiced quality of its traditions, has secured for him a unique place in the country’s literary history.
His substantial body of fiction and non-fiction is a repository of lore and learning, and amply rewards not only the interest shown in it over many years by his popularity among the general public, but also that of Irish and international literary scholarship.
Strangely, however, despite his renowned reputation and canonical status, Kiely remains a writer whose work has generated surprisingly little secondary literature, academic or otherwise. This charming collection of twelve essays by some of Ireland’s foremost writers and esteemed international critics, in this, his centenary year, will breathe new life into Kiely’s work and place him back where he belongs, at the heart of Irish literature.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Benedict Kiely, Singular and Plural ~ George O’Brien
Benedict Kiely in His Time
Out of Omagh
An Unfortunate Country: Reading Benedict Kiely’s Poor Scholar, 1974–2018
Benedict Kiely and the 1950s: The Struggle to Be Modern
‘He Could Recite All Night’: An Appreciation of Benedict Kiely
John Wilson Foster
The Light of Other Days: Revolving Many Memories
‘I Was the Stranger Who Had Once Been the Guide’: Benedict Kiely’s Americans
‘A Dark Writer’: The Other Side of Benedict Kiely
Seanachaí and Silence
About the Author
George O’Brien has published an autobiographical trilogy – The Village of Longing (1987), Dancehall Days (1988) and Out of Our Minds (1994) – and various books of literary criticism, the most recent of which is The Irish Novel 1800–1910 (2015).