THE POOR MOUTH: A Bad Story About the Hard Life by Flann O'Brien

THE POOR MOUTH: A Bad Story About the Hard Life

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Written in 1941 at a time when the Gaelic League and its progeny had a stranglehold on Irish arts and letters and the Gaelic-speaking primitives of Galway and Connemara were sacrosanct to Ireland's cultural commissars, this savage satire on the native Irish peasantry brought down a storm of abuse on O'Brien's hapless head. And you can see why: pigs, potatoes, and ""the pitiable condition of the Gael"" now and evermore provide the theme, counterpoint and variations of this tale of the life and hard times of Bonaparte O'Coonassa, a resident of Corkadoragh, famed for its truly Gaelic poverty, ignorance and ""unfragrant"" aromas. Bonaparte lives largely on his backside on the rushes of his bad-smelling house with his mother and grandfather, known only as The Old-Grey-Fellow, and, of course, the pigs. His God-given stupidity and personal squalor confirm him as a pristine Gael. Unremitting misfortune is his lot (""the downpour comes heavily on us unfailingly each night"") but this too is his heritage and destiny. Wickedly parodying any number of Gaelic authors, O'Brien underscores and overstates every cliche of the destitute Irish ennobled by hunger and strict adherence to the idiocy of rural life. A tour de force of mock heroics, The Poor Mouth was written in Gaelic the better to affront Ireland's cultural custodians. Power's translation is faithfully malicious and Ralph Steadman's malevolent drawings perfectly mirror the spirit of the text.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1974
ISBN: 1564780910
Publisher: Viking