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Ay, Sean O'Casey is back, the Grand Old Man of Ireland, (he spits on Ireland, of course, and lives in England; he spits on England, too: O a man of constancy, that he is), lyrical as the Liffey, sweetly coming and going as the Shannon, sitting all alone in the gloaming, blistering, blathering 'bout this, bout that, like the poor in Notting Hill and the ""few having so much and the many having so little"". Ay, and he preaches the gospel of social protest; was not Christ a real angry young man? Oh, he was. And anticlerical to boot, probably too, like Sean. What is a soul, asks Sean, parodying the Archbishop of Dublin. ""A kinda-heavenly, self-flying, supersonic paratrooper?"" Bah! And more bah to the glum and gloom moderns, these Weary Willy poets, those Tired Tim playwrights, the Toynbees and the Audens; Shakespeare knew rue but he wore it with a difference. Why our ""misery-mes have it both ways and we have never had it so bad"". Don't they know the happiness in things done: the fixing of a fuse, the hanging of a door, the lilies of the field, O and a baby's birth lighting up the hearth and hamper of any home? Ah, me buttons and me tuttons, the belly-laugh to you all, he says, and all your dark, dewey nonsense..... And that, in brief, is the burden of the book. Two of the ""essays"" stand out: one a moving in memoriam to his child riddled with leukemia, the other a colloquial fantasy of a bedridden boy playing ""army"". O'Casey is crotchety, colorful, peerlessly picaresque; his prose works like a charm, his piddling opinions don't.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1963
Publisher: St Martin's Press