Brendan Behan


Hailed as the new O'Casey by Irish critics in 1958, Behan is now often portrayed as the archetypal Irishman and spectacular drunk. Behind the myth lies the more compelling story of a writer who was never able to fully harness his larger-than-life personality and talent.

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Brendan Behan: A Life

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Hailed as the new O'Casey by Irish critics in 1958, Behan is now often portrayed as the archetypal Irishman and spectacular drunk. Behind the myth lies the more compelling story of a writer who was never able to fully harness his larger-than-life personality and talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Brendan Behan: A Life is a fascinating look at the Irish author noted for his earthy satire and powerful political commentary…. O'Sullivan's biography, an in-depth look at one of the most unusual and intense personalities ever to grasp a pen, reveals the complex and unique humanity of this great Irish writer.
Library Journal
Irish writer Brendan Behan (1923-64) was adored unconditionally by his beloved Granny, endowed with a great love of the written word by his father, and inspired to embrace republicanism and the IRA by his mother. During his internment for the attempted shooting of two policemen, he began the writing that would bring him world renown. Once out of prison, he found literary recognition in Paris with his short stories while continuing to work as a Dublin house painter; he also launched on the legendary drinking that led to his diabetes and death. His prison drama, The Quare Fellow, was produced in Dublin in 1954, and in 1955 he married Beatrice ffrench-Salkeld, who suffered intense emotional and physical abuse at his hands. O'Sullivan, a broadcaster and the literary editor of the Irish political magazine Magill, accessed archives heretofore untouched to offer the best biography of Behan since Ulrick O'Connor's Bendan (LJ 8/71). He considers Behan in all his contradictions: both shy and spirited, he was a show-off and a vicious drunk who nevertheless possessed a remarkable ear for the language of the ordinary man. O'Sullivan also addresses Behan's rumored bisexuality. What results is a disturbing and enlightening biography.--Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Brendan Behan: A Life chronicles a talented writer's near-legendary life and illustrates why Behan became one of Ireland's most celebrated artists. Compiled from a wide variety of sources which included prison documents, interviews with family and friends, editors and contemporaries, biographer Michael O'Sullivan was able to present a lucid and vivid introduction to the complex personal world of a genuine literary genius. Brendan Behan: A Life is a "must" for those who appreciate the contributions, influence and work of this unusual and gifted literary figure of modern Irish literature.
Irish America Magazine
...Behan has always seemed a larger than life character, and Michael O'Sullivan has managed to capture some of this personality in a new biography....An easy and interesting read...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568331874
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Pages: 370
  • Sales rank: 1,009,200
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael O'Sullivan is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He is a broadcaster with Ireland's national radio and television station (RTE) and literary editor of the Irish magazine Magill. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 1999

    Michael O'Sullivan's Brendan Behan

    Michael O'Sullivan has uneathed for us some highly interesting material which hasn't been seen thusfar. He managed, for instance, to get revealing prison records opened years before their scheduled date for becoming declassified. This is an eminently readable book for those interested in Irish (and English) literature, and I was kept awake by it for several nights running. The only factors which prevent me from giving it five stars are the following: 1. A somewhat higher percentage than expected of the irritating grammatical and mechanical errors, and a few glaring syntactic flubs, which close proofreading and/or editing would have prevented; 2. The necessity to question the author's conclusions about aspects of his subject in certain instances (but he is always careful to delineate his reasons); 3. And finally, the author's too zealous reiteration of certain aspects of his theme (a plethora becomes intrusive where just a couple will do). But the author's work is carefully researched and, in large part, sensitively presented, and if you are a fan of the audacious Behan and his writings, this is a book you'll want to pick up.

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