Conor, Volume II

Conor, Volume II: A Biography of Conor Cruise O'Brien: Volume II, Anthology

Donald Harman Akenson
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Conor, Volume II
    Book Description:

    The career of Conor Cruise O'Brien reads like the work of several people, not just one. Having served as a diplomat under Sean MacBride, he came to world prominence as special representative to Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations, in the then-Congo. Squeezed ruthlessly by big-power politics, he resigned and wrote To Katanga and Back (1962), a classic in modern African history and still the only book to get behind the polished marble façade to reveal how the United Nations works.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6511-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    The selections from the writings of Conor Cruise O’Brien which follow are arranged chronologically. They are intended to be read in tandem with the narrative of Conor’s life: references to these selections are provided at appropriate points in the narrative. They can, however, be read on their own, sequentially, to provide an idiographic chart of Conor’s style of writing and of the matters on which he focused his attention.

    Where Conor will eventually be seen to fit into the literary history of the twentieth century inevitably will be determined not only by the character of his writings, but by all...

  4. Selections
    • 1 “Poisson d’Avril” / “Poison d’Autrui”
      (pp. 2-3)
    • 2 “Christine”
      (pp. 4-5)
    • 3 Profile: Mr. Sean MacBride, T.D.
      (pp. 6-10)

      When he laughs, which he does often, his skin, of very good quality parchment, crackles into a complex system of fine folds; the remarkable eyes, prominent and yet recessed, like those of some mad monk of romance, flicker with the persuasions of gaiety: the chuckle of that exotic uvula conspires, with the bandit eyebrows, giving a touch ofdiablerieto what you may be very sure is a most harmless witticism. The total effect is rather impressive and not at all amusing. You do not feel as if you had taken part in an exchange of pleasantries: you feel more...

    • 4 The Magic of Mauriac
      (pp. 11-19)

      In 1952 the Nobel Prize for Literature went to François Mauriac, who has, over forty years and in more than twenty novels, written of men and women as answerable to God, guilty in the sight of God, and serving always, willingly or unwillingly, the mysterious purposes of God.

      Six years ago this same prize, this European accolade, went to another Frenchman who had, over a longer period and in a greater number of words, shown us men and women learning to rejoice in the idea that they were answerable only to themselves, that they were not guilty at all, and...

    • 5 A Sunday in East Berlin
      (pp. 20-22)

      “The People’s Police are on the Watch,” declares a slogan at the subway station in the Alexanderplatz, from which I emerged into East Berlin. Beneath the slogan is an exhibit of photographs, with humorous captions in the Berlin dialect, showing the various feats of this famous force which, like the “B Specials” of Belfast, is politically selected and para-military.

      There are, however, no People’s Police and only two or three civilians to be seen in the great ruined expanse of the Alexanderplatz, in the central section of old Berlin. Quite near the subway there is a bookshop, closed since it...

    • 6 Poetry, Inspiration and Criticism
      (pp. 23-28)

      “He was not an omnivorous devourer of sensations; he did not scour the world for them or pick tit-bits from many times and places. When something caught him, he was its devoted and responsive victim, who sought to extract all that he possibly could from it and was by his very devotion hampered from looking at anything else.”

      This, on Walter Pater as a critic, is typical of Sir Maurice Bowra’s sober and clear appraisals. It is also, I think, a self-criticism, for Sir Maurice is the kind of critic that Pater was not. Omnivorous, in his new book of...

    • 7 The Loved One
      (pp. 29-30)

      Mr. Waugh, so his publishers tell us, suffered three years ago from a brief attack of hallucinations. He has now, according to the same source, made these “the theme of a light novel which should delight all those who live on the border lines of sanity—rather more than half the inhabitants of the kingdom according to medical figures.”

      It seems doubtful whether a novel about delusions of persecution—which is what Mr. Pinfold’s hallucinations mainly are—will bring unalloyed pleasure to those whose reason is tottering on its throne. The present reviewer, who has no claim to speak for...

    • 8 Carey Bloom
      (pp. 31-42)

      On his native soil the Kerry blue is a shaggy blue-black animal, a little short on leg, purposeful and reticent, and a fierce fighter. So was our Kerry blue in Paris, above all shaggy, and we were very proud. The Parisians are exceptionally fond of dogs; they are also inexhaustibly curious about the diversity of the creations of God, or the Supreme Being. For both those reasons our Kerry blue attracted a good deal of attention. It was therefore nothing exceptional when the stout lady, proprietress of the restaurant in the Place Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, came over and asked what it was,...

    • 9 Serpents
      (pp. 43-46)

      Mad Bear, the Tuscarora Indian who related to Edmund Wilson the long allegory which includes the story of the serpents, is one of the leaders of a messianic and nationalist movement which has developed in recent years among the Iroquois “Six Nations” in New York State and Canada, and apparently affects in some degree other Indians in regions as far afield as Florida, Wisconsin and even Arizona. Socially, this movement draws strength from the resentment created by the impact of industrial society—particularly the physical and legal impacts of great engineering projects, “thruways” and seaways—on the Indian reservations with...

    • 10 Orwell Looks at the World
      (pp. 47-51)

      “I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt that this created a sort of private world in which I could get my own back for my failure in everyday life.” These words, about himself as a boy, Orwell wrote when he was already near his death; and they are both true and an example of their own truth. Not that objectively Orwell was a failure, at school or in life. But he did feel himself to be a failure; he did want to get his own back; he had...

    • 11 My Case
      (pp. 52-58)

      One evening late in May of this year, Mr. Andrew Cordier, Executive Assistant to the United Nations Secretary-General, telephoned me from New York. I was in my house in Howth, near Dublin. “Mr. Hammarskjöld wants you to go to Elisabethville as his representative. Are you prepared to go?”

      I said yes, stipulating only that the invitation should be announced as one to join the Secretariat, without mention of the Congo. I knew the Irish Government, already bearing heavy commitments in the Congo, would be reluctant to see an Irish official assume the unpredictable responsibilities of the un representative in Katanga....

    • 12 White Gods and Black Americans
      (pp. 59-64)

      In Accra recently a Nigerian company, under the direction of the brilliant young artist Demas Nwoko, presented a dramatised version, in Yoruba, of Amos Tutuola’sThe Palm-Wine Drinkard. The highlight of the evening was “The White Gods”, a European couple, as they appear to a simple West African, interpreted by a very sophisticated West African. Lank straw-coloured hair hung round their pallid masks; they seemed all knees and noses, their movements angular, their courtship bird-like, their voices shrill and sad. They were felt to be benevolent, in a sense, and powerful, in a sense, but the benevolence and the power...

    • 13 Neo-Colonialism
      (pp. 65-70)

      For Mr. Brian Crozier—as for many conservative and some liberal writers—neo-colonialism is a communist bogey, successfully used to foment anti-Western feelings in the ex-colonies. He “traces”, according to the blurb, “the theory of neo-colonialism back to its unmistakably communist sources.” He tells us in his first chapter that

      the contrast between communist theory and practice, and between Western performance and Leninist predictions, was embarrassing to the communists. Something had to be done about it—not by deeds, which might be costly, but by words, which cost less but were often deadly. That was how “neo-colonialism” came to be...

    • 14 Yeats and Fascism: What Rough Beast
      (pp. 71-84)

      In the spring and summer of 1933, the fascism of the Irish Blueshirts looked to many people like a possible winner and in this phase Yeats was with the Blueshirts. By the autumn and winter of 1933/34, the government’s energetic measures—described by Yeats as “panic measures”—made it clear that De Valera was no Von Papen. O’Duffy, failing to devise anything effective in reply, revealed that he was no Hitler. The blue began to fade, and Yeats’s interest in it faded proportionately.

      Commenting on a mildly anti-Blueshirt anecdote in a letter of Yeats, Professor Jeffares says:

      This ironic attitude...

    • 15 A Long Engagement
      (pp. 85-89)

      It is a triangular affair: Sartre, Beauvoir, History. The second is in love with the first; the first with the third; the third not at all.Force of Circumstance, the third long volume of Simone de Beauvoir’s huge autobiography is the story of the saddest and most ironic phase of this relationship: from the liberation of France to the liberation of Algeria. The first chapter begins with the words, “We were liberated. In the streets the children were singing:

      Nous ne les reverrons plus C’est fini ils sont foutus …

      The last chapter greets another victory—peace in Algeria—in...

    • 16 The Neurosis of Colonialism
      (pp. 90-94)

      Frantz Fanon was an exceptionally brave and honest man; he was also exceptional in his love and respect for the oppressed. He demonstrated these qualities by his professional work as a psychiatrist in Blida, Algeria, by throwing in his lot with the fln and by his writing. As a writer, he is distinguished by his passionate seriousness and his frequent, penetrating insights. He is neither an easy nor a systematic writer; one feels that his writing is wrung from him by his experience.The Wretched of the Earthis not so much a tract or essay as a series of...

    • 17 Nkrumah — The Man I Knew
      (pp. 95-97)

      As Tim Healy said of Parnell, Kwame Nkrumah was a splendid comedian.

      This made talking to him difficult because he always registered too much, as if his expression—of amusement, concern, indignation or sheer sincerity—had to be sufficiently vehement to carry conviction to many people over a wide area. When I left his presence I used to feel, among other things, a sort of spiritual crick in my neck, as if I had been watching a movie from a position too close to the screen.

      In public, however, his performances were superb. About the time I came to Ghana,...

    • 18 The Embers of Easter
      (pp. 98-111)

      All rebellion is infectious, and that is why Lenin praised the Easter Rising in Dublin. But in 1916 the conditions for a spread of the infection were far less favourable than they were to become two years later. In 1916 “Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic, pale and cold of face, to an indifferent crowd and ‘a few thin perfunctory cheers’” (Desmond Ryan). Because of Eoin MacNeill’s Countermanding Order the Irish Volunteers did not rise as a body; only a few hundred men came out at the orders of Pearse and Connolly and fought for a week in Dublin;...

    • 19 The Homer Watt Lecture
      (pp. 112-119)

      It is hardly probable that there will be many people at the P.E.N. Congress who warmly support Dante as a Ghibelline, but are indifferent to theDivine Comedy; who admire Milton’s work as Cromwell’s Latin Secretary, but care nothing forParadise Lost; who prefer to think of Tolstoy as the champion of the Dukhobors, rather than as the author ofWar and Peace; who are interested in Yeats not as a lyric poet, but as the theoretician of the Irish Blueshirts.

      It follows that if the members of the congress are content to discuss the question on the level on...

    • 20 Encounter Retorts
      (pp. 120-122)

      The “Column” section of the AugustEncounteris mainly devoted to an attack on “the Joe McCarthy of politico-cultural criticism”—myself—for an article which appeared in this journal three years ago, and for a lecture I gave to the alumni of New York University last May (which was reprinted in part in theWashington Post). The personal vituperation which fills so much of the section was to be expected, and most of it may be ignored. It includes, however, one falsification of fact which—since the writer (signing himself “R”) elaborates it with much sarcasm and portentousness—might as...

    • 21 Burke, Marx, and History
      (pp. 123-130)

      The spectre haunting Europe inThe Communist Manifesto(1848), and haunting the world today, walks for the first time in the pages of Burke:

      Out of the tomb of the murdered monarchy in France has arisen a vast, tremendous, unformed spectre, in a far more terrifick guise than any which ever yet have overpowered the imagination, and subdued the fortitude of man. Going straight forward to its end, unappalled by peril, unchecked by remorse, despising all common maxims and all common means, that hideous phantom overpowered those who could not believe it was possible she could at all exist except...

    • 22 Two-Faced Cathleen
      (pp. 131-136)

      “We know from our literary histories,” writes Mr. Thompson, “that there was a movement called the Irish Literary Renaissance and that Yeats was at its head. We know from our political histories that there is now a Republic of Ireland because of a nationalistic movement that, militarily, began with the insurrection of Easter Week, 1916. But what do these two movements have to do with one another?”

      It is an interesting question. Unfortunately Mr. Thompson is hardly qualified to answer it, because he has little understanding of either of the movements whose interaction he has undertaken to study. For the...

    • 23 In Quest of Uncle Tom
      (pp. 137-141)

      Travel books are never about the places and people they are supposed to be about, but about the differences between these and the places and people the writer knows best, and about what these differences mean to the writer. For the native of the place, however, the things that he and his relations have in common with neighboring peoples and with other men generally are not less important than the things that separate them. The traveler’s account, based on a catalogue of differences and ignoring the common, must therefore seem wrong to the native. This will always be so, unless...

    • 24 Inside Biafra
      (pp. 142-146)

      If you wish to enter Biafra otherwise than in the wake of the Federal Nigerian troops, you must do so clandestinely by special aircraft or overland through Cameroun. To the south, it is effectively blockaded by sea; in the north and west it is invested by Federal forces: only on the east has this unrecognised republic of 14 million people—including two million refugees who fled there after the massacres in the Northern Region of an estimated 30,000 easterners last year—had some access to the outside world.

      On 22 September, with two American academic colleagues, I ent Biafra through...

    • 25 Student Unrest
      (pp. 147-150)

      Universities and colleges in the United States have been very unevenly affected by student unrest. There are colleges—like Bucknoll in Western Pennsylvania—that are so free from student radicalism that they can with impunity confer honorary degrees on people like Hubert Humphrey. At the other extreme, on the national spectrum, is San Francisco State College which has been living for nearly two years in a state of permanent revolution. Universities which have become known for the radicalism of their student bodies—like Berkeley, Wisconsin and Columbia, as well as San Francisco State—may have little enough in common otherwise...

    • 26 Biafra Revisited
      (pp. 151-169)

      On Easter Sunday I paid my second visit to Biafra. The first visit had been eighteen months before, in the third month of the Nigerian War, September 1967.¹ Then we had come in overland, by Land Rover from Mamfe in Cameroun, to Calabar: we—then as now I traveled with Stanley Diamond, Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research in New York—had interviewed the Biafran leader Colonel Ojukwu in Enugu, and had visited Port Harcourt and Onitsha, where we crossed the Niger Bridge into the section of the Mid-West region then held by Biafran forces. Enugu...

    • 27 Camus, Algeria, and “The Fall”
      (pp. 170-180)

      Camus’s political writings on the Algerian war are collected inActuelles III (Chroniques Algériennes)which he published in 1958. It is a depressing volume. The manner, in the post-1945 essays, is not so much that of Camus as that of the moderate bourgeois French journalism of the period: categorical and resonant in tone, equivocal in substance.

      The Arab personality will be recognized by the French personality but in order for that to happen, France must exist. “You must choose your side,” cry the haters. Oh I have chosen it! I have chosen my country. I have chosen the Algeria of...

    • 28 Holy War
      (pp. 181-196)

      In Northern Ireland many well-informed people will tell you that it is an illusion to believe that the struggle is a religious one. Unionists, who are almost all Protestants, will assure you that their opponents, who are almost all Catholics, are the objects of distrust not because of their faith, but because of their political allegiance, which has generally gone, not to the British Crown and to what Unionists like to call the Constitution of Northern Ireland, but to the idea of an Irish nation. Surprisingly, some high Catholic ecclesiastics are in general agreement with this view: the real trouble,...

    • 29 America First or Varieties of Americocentrism
      (pp. 197-205)

      I was a resident in the United States from 1965 to the early summer of this year, when I returned to Ireland to live, and I still hold—though not for much longer—the little green card of the resident alien.

      Coming back here to speak at this gathering, I was told at the American Embassy in Dublin that I did not require a visa; I could come in on my little green card. When I presented myself at Immigration at Kennedy airport, I had to explain why, though technically a resident alien, I had become, as it were, more...

    • 30 The Gentle Nietzscheans
      (pp. 206-216)

      Nietzsche, it is usually held, was purely a man of thought and letters, and he was certainly never involved in practical politics: his political thought is generally considered to come a long way, in importance, after his contributions to psychology, German prose, and the critique of ethics.

      Such classifications have their uses, especially for librarians, but it may also be useful to ignore them. All writing that we know—even the writing of Samuel Beckett—is a form of social communication, a cryptic signaling going on in society and history. And this signaling is not going along a narrow channel,...

    • 31 Mr. Alec Foster: An Appreciation
      (pp. 217-219)

      The obituary called Alec Foster “a noted controversialist.” He was that, and yet the description may mislead people who didn’t know him. A “controversialist” sounds a rather grim type, a man of abstract causes, pedantic, quarrelsome. Alec was the reverse of all that. He did not love abstractions, he loved human beings. Stronger than that—since the word “love” has been bent by so many theologians and patriots—he actually liked human beings. I never knew anyone who liked so many different varieties of human beings so much, or who so enjoyed different kinds of company—the young, the old,...

    • 32 Now They Talk of Over-Information
      (pp. 220-223)

      The Evzones stand guard on the terraces of the Royal Palace, while the President’s guests go by. The huge guards, in their gawdy clothes, stand as stiffly as any sentry at Buckingham Palace, as far as their bodies are concerned. Their features are taut with apprehension. Their fierce, black eyes dart to and fro. It is as if Groucho Marx has been hired to keep an eye on the spoons, from inside a suit of armour.

      These vivid manifestations of distrust on the part of the servants of power are fitting enough. The spoons, in a symbolic sense, are in...

    • 33 Hands Off
      (pp. 224-231)

      The cause of political violence in Ireland, in particular Northern Ireland, is pressure meeting with resistance. The pressure is toward the unification of Ireland—an effort to move Northern Ireland out of the present United Kingdom and into a separate state of unitary or federal character, embracing the entire island. The resistance is to being incorporated in any form of united Ireland.

      The pressure comes almost exclusively from Catholics in the Irish Republic and in the North, and from American descendants of Irish Catholics. The resistance comes mainly from a million Ulster Protestants, who constitute a large majority of the...

    • 34 Dead Cat Calwell Meets Arctic Dev
      (pp. 232-235)

      The relation between morality and politics was once defined for me by the late Rt Hon. Arthur Calwell, Australian statesman and Labour leader and, at the material time, Minister for Immigration and Information in his country’s Government.

      Calwell was being entertained to lunch by Eamon De Valera, Irish statesman and at the time, President of Ireland. I was present as an official. The only other guest was the Australianchargé d’affairesin Dublin, a Mr. Mulrooney.

      The President did not seem at first greatly to take to his guest. For one thing, Calwell was taller than Dev. This was unusual,...

    • 35 Fwowing Up with Dorothy Parker
      (pp. 236-239)

      A dozen or so of Dorothy Parker’s wisecracks have entered into the language : some people’s language anyway. Almost all of these quips date from Mrs. Parker’s heyday, in the late Twenties and early Thirties, when she held the culturally influential position of literary editor of theNew Yorker, using for that purpose the description “Constant Reader.”

      Many people remember—and occasionally use—her sassy comment: “Tonstant Weader Fwows Up.”

      But how many remember the precise word which had this effect on Tonstant Weader, i.e., Dorothy Parker?

      What caused her to fwow up was the word “hummy.”

      And I infer,...

    • 36 African Self-Righteousness Is as Tiresome as European
      (pp. 240-243)

      Professor Mazrui has an original mind, with a strong propensity to be intoxicated with its own hypotheses and rhetoric. In his Reith Lectures he has indulged that propensity to the hilt. I did not hear the lectures and it seems they made a good impression on at least some listeners. Professor Mazrui has a pleasing personality and a persuasive manner, and the intellectual excitement which he clearly experiences saves him from being boring. So the lectures no doubt sounded good. In cold print, however, their deficiencies are glaring.

      “Let us assume,” says Professor Mazrui in the first of these Reith...

    • 37 Kangaroo Tickets and Black Politics
      (pp. 244-247)

      You will find “Kangaroo ticket” in “Safire’s Political Dictionary” (Ballantine Books, New York; Third Edition, 1978) defined as follows: “One in which the Vice-Presidential candidate has greater political appeal than the Presidential candidate.”

      As many people these days seem to find Vice-President Mondale more appealing than President Carter, and Mr. Bush than Mr. Reagan, both current tickets seem to belong to the marsupial order.

      You won’t find “clothes-pin vote” in Safire’s Dictionary, yet. It means a vote which is so repulsive to have to cast that you have to hold your nose, with a clothes-pin. (If you say clothes-peg, don’t...

    • 38 Parnell and His Party, Reconsidered
      (pp. 248-250)

      Parnell and His Partyfirst appeared in 1957. Since then we have had F.S.L. Lyons’s splendid biography and other work shedding light on the period, notably the researches of Emmet Larkin on the Catholic Church and Roy Foster’s admirable study of the young Parnell.

      These new publications would not in themselves require—at least in my belief—any major recasting ofParnell and His Party, and I still feel able to stand over the general line of interpretation in that book with, however, one major exception. That exception derives not so much from the new material—though it is partly...

    • 39 What Rough Beast?
      (pp. 251-253)

      I must begin by declaring interest. Dr Cullingford says in her introduction that Yeats’s “interest in Fascism has laid him open to many ‘attacks,’ of which the most significant and influential is Conor Cruise O’Brien’s article ‘Passion and Cunning: An Essay on the Politics of W. B. Yeats’” (published in the Yeats centenary volume: “In Excited Reverie”). Dr Cullingford is determined to repel all such “attacks.”

      Yeats, Ireland and Fascismis the first book-length treatment of its subject. It is also—and this is a considerable merit—the first study to give serious attention both to Yeats’s political philosophy and...

    • 40 Blueshirts and Quislings
      (pp. 254-256)

      In July 1933, after a meeting with General O’Duffy, W.B. Yeats wrote to Olivia Shakespear: “Italy, Poland, Germany, then perhaps Ireland. Doubtless I shall hate it (though not so much as I hate Irish democracy) …”

      This was the period in which Yeats wrote his marching songs for the Blueshirts, and used such language as, “our chosen colour is blue … (the colour of my early book covers).”

      The whole situation was full of ironies, some of which still remain with us. To begin with, apologists for the Blueshirts, both then and now, justified the movement in terms ofdefence...

    • 41 The Four Horsemen
      (pp. 257-266)

      I know that you all genuinely want to help Ireland. The trouble is that the Ireland you want to help doesn’t exist, and that your efforts have the effect of making things worse, not better, in the Ireland of reality.

      The Ireland of your imagination is an island artificially divided by an act of British policy. Since the British divided it, the British can reunite it. As a united Ireland would (you assume) be a peaceful Ireland, the British government, by its refusal to reunite Ireland, has a prime responsibility for the continuing violence. In bringing pressure to bear on...

    • 42 The Artist as Pompous Prig
      (pp. 267-269)

      I first readA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manover 40 years ago. I didn’t like it then. I felt uneasy about that at the time because I knew it was supposed to be a great book. I re-read it last week. I still don’t like it, found much of it boring and otherwise insufferable and doubt whether anyone today would claim it as a great book if it were not for the fact that it is by the author ofUlysses, and tells us a great deal about it.

      Most Joyceans—perhaps not quite all—will...

    • 43 A Step to Watch
      (pp. 270-273)

      “Doubtless I shall hate it,” wrote W. B. Yeats, “but not so much as I hate Irish democracy.”

      What the poet thought he would hate, but not so much as Irish democracy, was Fascism. Yeats was feeling a bit bruised at the time (1933). His deep love of Ireland was a romantic affair and Irish democracy, whatever else it may be, is not a romantic affair. When Cathleen Ni Houlihan—through the magic of the ballot-box—takes visible, tangible form, she often turns out to be no oil-painting.

      Through her elected emanations, the lady had recently trodden all over the...

    • 44 Death in the Afternoon
      (pp. 274-276)

      Last Wednesday afternoon, in Serpentine Road, North Belfast, a policeman was shot dead. I don’t know if you know Serpentine Road. It’s a pleasant suburban street that winds itself up from the Shore Road, down by Belfast Lough, up to the Antrim Road in the shadow of the Cave Hill, that romantic eminence on whose summit Wolfe Tone swore his United Irish oath.

      The policeman’s name was Lindsay McCormack. He was shot while on his way to see children from the local primary school safely across the road. He was in the habit of going there every day at the...

    • 45 Islam’s Example
      (pp. 277-279)

      Judge Noel Ryan and the Bishop of Limerick, Dr Jeremiah Newman, have something peculiar in common. Both seem to be fascinated by the Muslim way of life, and to feel that there is something in it for our instruction.

      Dr Newman not long ago opined that the Muslim world was “way ahead of us”; apparently in the public deference paid to religion, and accredited teachers of religion. The judge, in giving judgment last week against Eileen Flynn, the schoolteacher who lost her job after she became pregnant by a married man with whom she was living, said: “In other places...

    • 46 UN Theater
      (pp. 280-284)

      Twenty million people are estimated to have died in wars since 1945, the year the United Nations was born. Why did the un notdosomething to prevent those wars?

      The question is misconceived. The United Nations cannot do anything, and never could. It is not an animate entity or agent. It is a place, a stage, a forum, and a shrine. It can be manipulated, just as the ancient shrine at Delphi used to be. It is also—and this has been its most useful function—a place to which powerful people can repair when they are fearful about...

    • 47 An Exalted Nationalism
      (pp. 285-288)

      Twenty-four years ago, in connection with the centenary of Yeats’s birth, I wrote an essay on Yeats’s politics under the titlePassion and Cunning(recently reprinted, in a collection with the same title).

      Today, on the fiftieth anniversary of Yeats’s death, I should like to return to the same subject, but looking at it this time from a significantly different angle.

      In 1965, what interested me most about Yeats’s politics was his intermittent, but potent and recurring, attraction towards fascism. Today what interests me most is his propensity—also intermittent, but potent and recurring—to exalted (or manic) Irish nationalism,...

    • 48 A Vindication of Edmund Burke
      (pp. 289-303)

      On November 1, 1790, Edmund Burke’s most famous book,Reflections on the Revolution in France, was published. It is important to get the title right. The book is often referred to asReflections on the French Revolution. The book’s real title adequately reveals Burke’s intentions. Burke’s point, in wording the title as he did, was that this was not just a “French Revolution” but a general revolution begun in France but likely to spread to other countries, as indeed it began to do, through military expansion, less than two years after the publication of theReflections.

      But already well before...

    • 49 Pride in the Language
      (pp. 304-306)

      The Cultural Capital of Europe did not distinguish itself last week. On Saturday last, a day of brilliant sunshine, the Memorial Service for Sean O’Faolain was held at St. Joseph’s Church, Glasthule.

      Sean O’Faolain, who died at the age of 91, could aptly (though not elegantly) be described as the Grand Old Man of Irish Letters. If a writer of comparable distinction, belonging to any other nation, were being commemorated in the national capital, the Memorial Service would have been crowded with representatives of the nation’s entire Establishment.

      That applies to every other nation in the European Community (with the...

    • 50 Your Lordships: An Open Letter to the Irish Catholic Hierarchy
      (pp. 307-310)

      Your lordships have never before been subjected to an Open Letter. The publication of this one, here, is a sign of the times, which you will do well to ponder.

      An Open Letter is a statement in which a writer, believing himself (or herself) to speak for a number of citizens, addresses the representatives of a powerful institution, deemed to have abused its power. The archetype of the Open Letter is Emile Zola’s letter to the President of the French Republic on 13 January, 1898, published under a title which became famous:J’accuse!

      Zola was protesting against the persecution of...

  5. Bibliography
    (pp. 311-352)
  6. Index
    (pp. 353-356)