Talk:Flann O'Brien

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Brian Ó Nualláin or Brian O'Nolan[edit]

Changed: 'His pen name means "Myles of the little horses", or "Myles of the ponies" and Cruiskeen Lawn means "Little Brimming Jug"' according to the authors own views. Hope this doesn't become a new 'O'Nolan' naming discussion - cited in most biog's/ critical account (will find page ref).

He changed the spelling of his own name frequently, and depending on his audience, and on what mood he was in. Though he professed in a letter to his bosses at the civil service that B. Nolan:

"is not the name under which I entered the Civil service, nor is the English transliteration in use by my family. My own name is one of the few subjects upon which I claim to be an authority and notwithstanding any colloquialism countenanced for the sake of convenience in the Office, I would be glad if my own predilection in the matter be accepted in official correspondence" (letters, with thanks to Indiana Uni. archives, cited in Cronin, p. 79)

He seems never to have settled himself on any particular spelling of the name. He wrote exams under the name 'Brian Nolan' when all his peers were using Gaelic forms (ibid), - and was never (in any of the letters, or any printed material) final in choice of his nomenclature. As he is almost universally referred to as 'Brian O'Nolan', this should , I think, refer to him. As the family name is 'Nolan', and the O' was added for a bit of aristocratic flair, it is clear that any attempt to find a definitive spelling is a bit ridiculous. Patriotic rants are neither useful nor accurate. - (written by a paddy - so no flaming please).

What are you talking about? His family name was Uí Nualláin, and his father was Mícheál Ó Nualláin. His native language was Irish and he was christened Brian Ó Nualláin and not Nolan or O' Nolan. So, where is your source for this "the family name is 'Nolan', and the O' was added"? No bluster please, just evidence.

"Brian's father, Michael, came there [to Strabane] as a customs and Excise officer in 1897. [...] He was not born O'Nolan, but Nolan; and he called himself Nolan for some purposes throughout his life. Names were always a somewhat provisional matter for Michael O'Nolan, as they would be later on for his son Brian. Born Michael Victor Nolan in July 1875, he was married as Michael V. O'Nolan, but signed the register as Miceál O Nualáin [sic. please note that your 'correct spelling' doesn't agree with this - another example of the fluidity of the O'Nolan family name]His superiors in the Customs and Excise service continued to know him as Michael Nolan; and so, somewhat more remarkably, did the Revenue Commisioners of the Irish Free State when he was appointed a Commissioner in later life. On Brian's birth certificate his father's name is given as Michael Victor O'Nolan. [...] when probate was taken on his estate his name was given as Michael Nolan." [Cronin - no laughing matter, p. 4)

I think that answers the call for evidence - indeed, if you go back further up the family tree: "Michael's father taught music at the Omagh Model School and he was plain Donal Nolan" (ibid, p.4)

As to the aristocratic addition of the primary O' :

"O'Nolan was unusual. Those Nolans who objected to the English form of their name or wished to be known by what they beleived to be the Irish version of it called themselves O Nualláin, usually with two l's and with a sine fada, signifying a long vowel, over the O, in the Irish manner, instead of an apostraphe after it[...] To Irish ears O'Nolan has a would-be aristocratic ring, a faint suggestion of chieftmanship of the clan" (ibid)

That is my evidenca, all of which goes to demonstrate the fundamental mutability of the family name. Some called themselves some things, others other things, but what emerges is the notion that labelling was for the O'Nolans a distinctly pragmatic affair. I said earlier that he wrote his name as O'Nolan during exams in which his peers were using the gaelic form, here is a quotation:

"either as a protest against the habit of transliteration into Irish for unworthy reasons, or out of whim, he used the English form of his name - and the more plebian Nolan instead of the somewhat aristocratic-sounding O'Nolan at that" (ibid, 79)

quite a lot of evidence, I think you'll agree. Do you have any to show that "His family name was Uí Nualláin, and his father was Mícheál Ó Nualláin?"

P.S: "Brian O'Nolan was born in Strabane, Co.Tyrone on 10th October, 1911. The third of twelve children, he was raised with Irish as his mother tongue, though neither of his parents were native speakers of the language. O'Nolan's family was steeped in the Gaelic Revival, which caught the enthusiasm of so many in Ireland at the beginning of the twentieth century. His parents, Agnes Gormley and Michael Nolan, had met at an Irish class run by the Gaelic League".

Thank you. A very good answer, and I keep thinking of the disclaimer in At Swim-Two-Birds: "All persons, including the first person singular, are entirely fictitious." He wasn't happy with political grave robbing of any sort, was uneasy with naive nationalism, and didn't like jingoism by any practitioner, which is why the shrillness of our objector is so out of place with this particular author above others. Geogre 18:28, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

very true, the man would be turning in his grave, or not, probably laughing!

Why do you give him his English name when his real name was Brian Ó Nualláin not Brian O'Nolan or whatever meaningless anglicisation you threw on him? Even Britannica gives him his Irish name. Never mind, I just realised I can change it so I edited to give the man his correct name throughout the article.

Yes, and let's explore together why you were reverted, shall we? What name did he sign? What name did he use? What were his opinions of the Irish Nationalists who was quick to change their names? It's well and good for Britannica to retroactively "correct" the man himself, but that is a bit of historical hubris and blindness that need not be replicated here. Geogre 16:34, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

He used the name which was on his birth certificate, Brian Ó Nualláin, a matter which is obviously troubling you. Where is your evidence to the contrary? That you equate his opposition to verbal nationalism/ republicanism with an opposition to the Irish language evidently reflects your own inability to separate both. Ó Nualláin had a deep love for the language which explains why he chose to study it in university as well as write prolifically in it. That you fail to understand that his opposition was to sham protestations of Irishness as well as things he believed to be outdated such as the script and not in any way to the language is your mistake. Dare I suggest that your nationality has something to do with this inability to grasp the nuances of his work?

So, he used it on his own birth certificate? Was he his own father and mother, then? And specifically, he opposed the renaming of oneself with "Irish" names. As for his love of the language, that was nowhere questioned, so the strawman you charge at is a keepsake of your own. And my own nationality is something you can neither know nor comment upon. However, being unable to know a thing does not stop you elsewhere from commenting, so why it would stop you here is unknowable. Geogre 18:54, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

Why you must persist in your silliness only you could know. He was born Brian Ó Nualláin, and not any other name, to Irish-speaking parents and both his native and his first language was Irish. Do you deny this, and if so where is your evidence? Both his birth name and background are common knowledge to anybody who has even a cursory grasp of the man's life. You, clearly, are not in this group. That you wish to deny this basic fact about the man's existence on this earth and rush to change his name to an anglicised version says far more about you and your agenda than anything else. Get over it. The name of the writer who used Flann O Brien and many other pseudonyms was, from the cradle to the grave, Brian Ó Nualláin and not Brian O'Nolan or whatever other meaningless anglicisation you are putting on him. You have not, and you will not, produce any evidence to the contrary. Put up more than your anti-Irish prejudices, or shut up.

No need to get into name-calling, let's just try and find some sources which will tell us which version he used during his life. I haven't found anything definitive as yet, but I'm leaning towards the English version on the basis that his own brother (Ciarán Ó Nualláin) wrote a book called The Early Years of Brian O'Nolan, Flann O'Brien, Myles Na Gcopaleen. --Ryano 16:22, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
In A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers, Hugh Kenner writes the following: "Brian Ó Nuallain was one thing he was entitled to call himself, though his Civil Service checks were made out to O'Nolan, and when he heard Douglas Hyde attempt the Gaelic they say he laughed himself sick." Unfortunately, Kenner doesn't appear to provide a citation. - Cobra libre 23:24, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Indeed, so far we have Kenner (who never cites much, as he was, like Donald Hall, one of those "I knew the man when" critics), and we have his brother (i.e. The Brother), vs. an anonymous IP editor who cites Britanica. I should think the burden of proof is on those wishing a change from the status quo. In this case, the status quo is all previous commentary on the man. The shrill argument that jumps instantly to invective, personal attack, and charging at presumed "anti-Irish prejudices" (and I presume he means anti-Irish language and not anti-PLAIN PEOPLE OF IRELAND prejudices) lacks all credibility. For our purposes, we will need to maintain the entry in the form most likely to be useful for researchers. That would be O'Nolan. If further evidence arises, such as O'Nolan saying how he'd liked to have been remembered (and there is a passage like that in Curiskeen Lawn, but it never mentions his naming preference), we'll be happy to change. Geogre 00:12, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Actually, the very fact that he was christened Brian Ó Nualláin, and no other name, means that the burden of proof is on you to provide evidence that this was not his real name. You have categorically failed to do this. The twelve Ó Nualláin children were all brought up with Irish as their first language and it was only at the age of six that Brian started learning English. This is not disputed except, it would seem, by you. The fact that the brother mentioned above is Ciarán Ó Nualláin indicates this, as does the fact that another brother signs his name as Mícheál Ó Nualláin in his regular letters to The Irish Times. It can be confirmed in its entirety by Anthony Cronin's biography, No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O'Brien (1989)

Where, exactly? Cronin seems just as confused as the rest of us, but does refer to him as O'nolan throughout the book. have you read it?

. It is also attested to in Louis de Paor's Satire and Subversion in Brian Ó Nualláin's An Béal Bocht. I notice, too, that in your defence of an anglicised form, you have attempted to change the debate. Now, it is not about the man's real, birth name but rather about a justification of an anglicised form because it allegedly is "most likely to be useful for researchers". That's a fine, felicitous shift indeed for you. We'll ignore the minor matter that the claim itself, like your other one, completely lacks supporting evidence. At any rate, because of his numerous writings in Irish most Irish people who are aware of his writings know his real name to be Brian Ó Nualláin, as it was, and thus your point is invalid. Perhaps when you haven't enjoyed his enormous wit in the Irish you cannot but help seeing everything about the man through English eyes, and think we all view things the same way. Over to you.

As this is an English-language Wikipedia, the English version of his name is most appropriate. I have made changes to the article to reflect this. Please do not revert again as the consensus on this talk page is clearly against you. Filiocht | The kettle's on 11:01, 14 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't think we should opt for the English version simply because this is the English-language Wikipedia: we should try to use the version that the man himself used during his life. So far there is evidence in favour of both Ó Nualláin (his registration at birth, the fact that his brothers continue to use Ó Nualláin, Cronin and de Paor's biographies) and O'Nolan (contemporary accounts by Kenner, usage in at least some critical literature, including a book written by his brother, and the fact that his widow used the name Evelyn O'Nolan). This is definitely not as clear-cut as the anonymous commenter above tries to suggest. --Ryano 12:07, 14 November 2005 (UTC)
Actually, we should try to use the version that is most commonly used by English speakers who are, after all, the target audience. Filiocht | The kettle's on 12:20, 14 November 2005 (UTC)
I DISLIKE LABELS - rather I mean it's not that they aren't terribly useful. They are, old man. But do. . . do they sufficiently take account of one as . . . a . . . person? There is my dilemma. (How do you like his horns?) But I . . I . . . (little indulgent laugh) I know humanity, its foibles, its frailties, its fatuities; I know how the small mind hates what can't be penned into the humiliating five-foot shelf of its 'categories'. And so. . . if you must libel me, sorry, wrong brief, if you must label me, if you must use one epithet to 'describe' a being who in diversity of modes, universality of character and heterogeneity of spatio-temporal continuity transcends your bathetic dialectic, if, in short, one . . . practically algebraic symbol must suffice to cover the world-searing nakedness of that ontological polymorph who is at once immaculate brahmin, austere neo-platonist, motor-salesman, mystic, horse-doctor, hackney journalist and ideological catalyst, cal me. . . call me. . . (qu'importe en effet, tout cela?) call me . . . ex rebel." -- Myles na gCopaleen, Curiskeen Lawn.

' As this is an English-language Wikipedia, the English version of his name is most appropriate.' OK, so you are no longer disputing the fact the writer who used the name Flann O'Brien was registered at birth as Brian Ó Nualláin into an Irish-speaking home in Tyrone and that English was his second language? So, then, let's tackle this latest line. Let's all do a Wikipedia search for "John Halpin junior", shall we? How far will that get us? And how many people have even heard of such a person? By your above logic, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín should be merely a side name for the main entry of 'John Halpin junior', just as you have placed 'Brian Ó Nualláin' as a side name for the man who was actually born and raised as Brian Ó Nuallain. Likewise, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh is given as Ó Brádaigh's main name with 'Rory Brady in English' as a side entry, an entry which is fair enough. Dara Ó Briain is simply that and not, heaven forfend, something like Woodsy Brien. Again, by your argument above you will have to invent some anglicised form. Bairbre de Brún is her main entry with 'Born Barbara Brown' as a side heading, an entry which is factually based. And so on and so forth. Where is your consistency when a man who was actually born as Brian Ó Nuallain, and unlike Bairbre de Brún's entry nobody here has produced evidence to show he changed his name, is registered under an English form, 'Brian O'Nolan'? Nobody here has acknowledged the reality of his birth-name and in fact the original contributor foolishly claimed that Britannica 'retroactively corrected the man himself', while presenting no evidence for Ó Nualláin's change to O'Nolan and clearly being oblivious to the ironic fact that by using an anglicised form of the man who was born as Brian Ó Nualláin it was he who was retroactively "correcting" Brian Ó Nuallain. Until you produce evidence that Ó Nuallain, unlike his living brothers, preferred the name O'Nolan I will change the entry to the name he was born under with an 'In English Brian O'Nolan' side entry.

Frankly, his preference is irrelevant. As are the other examples you cite, which are all people where only one version of the name is ever used. Flann/Myles/Nrian is different because he himeself used multiple names and we have to pick one from amongst them. Can you produce any examples of English-language reference works that favour the Irish version of his name? And I strongly advise against reverting contrary to the consensus. Filiocht | [[User talk:Filiocht|The kettle's on]] 08:24, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm of the view that his preference is relevant, although difficult to determine. Is there a Wikipedia policy which contradicts this? --Ryano 09:17, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Filiocht in terms of our indexing/article naming, and generally our own references. If we had a clear indication of his preference, we could simply state so in the lead and then continue referring to him in the most utilitarian fashion. However, the evidence we have is that he himself used O'Nolan. He had his paychecks made out to O'Nolan. That's documentary and non-anecdotal. We have his brother -- however he referred to himself being irrelevant -- writing of him as O'Nolan (perhaps a recognition of the point Filiocht makes: that the man belonged to the public sphere, and the public sphere knew him as O'Nolan). That, too, is documentary. Against that, we have the birth certificate, which he, of course, did not make out. Indeed, his parents didn't make it out, either. The county made that out. Beyond that, we have...we have...nothing. On the other hand, the excerpt I copied above from Curiskeen Lawn shows pretty clearly what Flann O'Brien thought about all this folderol over names and labels. I fully expect our anonymous IP patriot to tell us that O'Nolan was interested in Irish "when it was neither profitable nor popular" and that "his purse" was always at the disposal of his national language (from Myles's description of "Bores"). Geogre 11:33, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
An aversion to eggs may well also feature. Bad for the bag. Filiocht | The kettle's on 12:01, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
Never looked an egg in the eye, I tell you. Doctors are a very bad business. Geogre 13:26, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Another not irrelevant quote from the great man (found in The Best of Myles)

There is scarcely a single word in the Irish … that is simple and explicit. Apart from words with endless shades of cognate meaning, there are many with so complete a spectrum of graduated ambiguity that each of them can be made to express two directly contrary meanings, as well as a plethora of intermediate concepts that have no bearing on either. … Superimpose on all that the miasma of ironic usage, poetic licence, oxymoron, plámás, Celtic evasion, Irish bullery and Paddy Whackery, and it is a safe bet you will find yourself very far from home.

Filiocht | The kettle's on 13:40, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

More from Myles on himself (and Modernism):
"Yes. Twenty years ago, most of us were tortured by the inadequacy of even the most civilised, the most elaborate, the most highly developed languages to the exigencies of human thought, to the nuances of inter-psychic communion, to the expression of the silent agonised pathologies of the post-Versailles epoch. Our strangled feelings, despairing of a sufficiently subtle vehicle, erupted into the crudities of the war novel. But here and there a finer intellect scorned this course. Tzara put his unhappy shirt on his dada (Fr. for hobby-horse as you must surely know), poor Jimmy Joyce abolished the King's English, Paulsy Picasso started cutting out paper dolls and I. . .
As far as I remember, I founded the Rathmines branch of the Gaelic League. Having nothing to say, I thought at that time that it was important to revive a distant language in which absolutely nothing could be said."
Not that we should regard this as non-ironic, but in his Myles persona he was much more consistent in criticism of (bad) Irish and Irish linguistic nationalism than he was in ever speaking of the good old Mother Tongue. Geogre 15:49, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
That's one of my favourite Myles quotes, but while O'Brien is certainly the best satirist of the Irish language movement, it would be wrong to say that he was predominantly critical of the language and movement in his Myles persona. He wrote some excellent stuff on the worth of the Irish language as Myles, I'm particularly thinking of his literal translation of a letter by Patrick Sarsfield. His relationship with Irish is best thought of as complex, and his writings are all the better for this. --Ryano 16:10, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Reading this thread I have to disagree with a lot of what is said. First, his father was a HM Customs officer for much of his career - and in that professional role it is probable that he used the English version of his name, i.e., Nolan. There is a fair amount of evidence that the father was 'discreet' about his political views. However, the choice of his parents to use the Irish version of the name "Ó Nualláin" on their children's birth certificates was, in pre-independence Ireland, a decision of considerable political significance and therefore it is important to understanding Brian O'Nolan, who he was, what his background was (as was the revival of Irish 'christian names' in the same period. Similarly, the decision to raise children speaking Irish as their first language in pre-independence Strabane is significant. So these points should be included in the Wikipedia entry. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:25, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

I will note for the record that the English Wikipedia article about Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski is entitled Joseph Conrad, the name by which he is best known. What is more, the Polish Wikipedia article is also titled pl:Joseph Conrad, though almost all the references to him there use the name Korzeniowski. He wrote fiction exclusively in English.

Take this for what it's worth, if anything. --John Cowan (talk) 03:52, 6 October 2019 (UTC)

As another example, the name on [Isaac Asimov]'s birth certificate was certainly in Cyrillic, yet his name appears in the English page as "Isaac Asimov" and in the Russian page as a transliteration of that (as distinct from his original name). Why? Because those are the names by which he is known in English and Russian. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Johnwcowan (talkcontribs) 21:43, 7 October 2019 (UTC)

Possible Copyvio?[edit]

I started editing this but then noticed that it was almost identical to the article here: [[1]]

I don't know if it's a copyvio however - anybody any ideas? Paul Tracy 14:07, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)

It's possible it's a reverse copyvio! What happens in that case? Paul Tracy

No Paul, the WORDIQ site is a Wikipedia mirror using our articles. See the bottom of the page there. Good luck with the editing. I'll chip in if I can. Filiocht 14:17, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
-) I'm delighted to see that our words have such currency. You're not the first one, Paul, to fall for that confusion. Wikipedia is propagated so far and wide now that, on obscure topics, it can be hard to find any web references that aren't us. (I admit to some pride in seeing so many of my words get out into the world, too, of course. Just gotta be honest about it.) Geogre 17:09, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure if a spoiler warning is needed for the "Brother Barnabas" story, because it's not a story a casual reader is likely to read or even locate, but this is arguable. I am also wondering if the Early Works section that I've added is more detailed than it needs to be? I find it to be interesting, useful information, but it's undeniably less important than the "Novels" and "Journalism" sections. Cobra libre 18:36, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It seems to me that spoiler warnings are out of line in general, and in particular with a comic novelist, and even more particularly with a story that's hard to locate, much less to read, so I sure wouldn't like to see a spoiler warning anywhere. Another matter is that we simply ought not be doing any kind of sequential plot discussion in an author article. That's better done in an article on the work. Since this is incubata, I wouldn't worry about it.
As for the second point, I love the new "Early" material. I think it's great. It's stuff I didn't know, and it helps illuminate the later stuff well. I think the answer is that, while it is presently disproportionately long compared to what we have on the later works, it's exactly the right length. The problem is that our coverage of the later stuff is stunted. We need much, much more on his named novels.
A point that I side-stepped when I first worked on this article is the problem of dealing with works only signed Flann O'Brien and making a page on Brian O'Nolan. It seems that we're doing the latter, but a Myles page ought to take some of the pressure off, here, from getting into too much detail on the journalism.
A thing that's still missing, and which I can't fill in, is his work in the Gaelic League. I know he started one of the first chapters of the Irish language revival movement, and I know he was at serious odds with the Nationalists (because he thought they were sloppy and goofy, not because he didn't want a Republic), but I don't know the details to fill them in.
Anyway, those are my 2 cents. Geogre 20:00, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Geogre, thank you very much for the helpful feedback. I have to admit that I broke down and shortened the "Early works" section. As far O'Brien's work with the Gaelic League, I presently can't be of much help there, though I do have a Flann O'Brien biography lying around that I skim occasionally, so I'll see if I can contribue something of worth the next time I read through the book. I agree that a separate Brian O'Nolan page would be useful, though again, I'm not sure how to approach it. - Cobra libre 19:39, Dec 10, 2004 (UTC)
I'm just rereading At Swim-Two-Birds, myself. There are some errors in the main article (it isn't entirely made up of other characters; that comes from a single speech by Brinsley to the college student, and the character of Furriskey is supposed to be Trellis's invention "ab ovo ex nihilo." Anyway, Myles has a great line where he talks about being alive at the height of Modernism, and, while Yeats and Pound and such were doing their things, while Dada went on, he founded the Rathmines branch of the Gaelic League. "Having nothing to say, I worked to revive a language in which it isn't possible to say anything." Geogre 22:19, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

What's this about a Flann O'Brien Center? I couldn't find anything about it from a cursory look at the Southern Illinois University Press web page. I wonder if this information is perhaps out of date; it seems like the Dalkey Archive Press (itself associated with the Center for Book Culture, which in turn is associated with Illinois State University) would be the likely locus for O'Brien-related activity these days, in the U.S., at least. - Cobra libre 19:39, Dec 10, 2004 (UTC)

My fault. As you say, it's Illinois State U. and not SIU. I think I was tripped up by the SIU English Dept. being the stronger of the two. I think that the FO Center is within the Dalkey Archive Press, that the press grew out of a new center for Flann. My information may well be out of date, however. Rarely, though, does a single-author press start up without there being some kind of scholarly center and/or grant to make it possible. Geogre 22:19, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Removal of Vico[edit]

Why remove the reference to Vico? Geogre 13:27, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

I didn't remove that, but I tend to agree with whomever did. I'm not aware that the de Selby of The Third Policeman has much to do with Vico, although I'm open to correction if there are sources. Also the bit about the bicycle recalling Beckett is rather tenuous also - Beckett's association with the bicycle is minimal compare with O'Brien's. --Ryano 14:03, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

About the bicycles I can answer. About Vico, I can't directly. Beckett was a cycling fan, and one of the common readings of Waiting for Godot is even that the "Godot" was a cycling hero of his (tongue in cheek, of course). Also, Beckett wrote that he saw the man on the bicycle as being a symbol of Cartesian dualism -- the problem of self and body/subject and object. The point to that and the Vico reference, however, was that O'Nolan was an avid reader of Joyce and Beckett -- so much so that he made a point of duplicating Joyce's reading, right down to Vico, and making inside references to both of his ex patriot countrymen. In particular in Dalkey Archive, but also The Third Policeman, O'Nolan plays with Irish literature itself, and especially the kind of Hell that the Irish Modernists had dreamed up. My source for the Vico identification is oral, so I absolutely won't re-insert it or insist upon it. I got it from lectures from Richard Ellmann. I can't reproduce the lectures, and Ellmann didn't write much about O'Nolan directly, so, on the principle that that which cannot be documented is not included, I don't mind. I just wondered if anyone had other identifications. Geogre 15:46, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

Merge? No.[edit]

Myles is a literary figure. It would be possible for the Myles article to redirect here, but Myles is a facet of the man. The reason that this article takes up most of the work of Brian O'Nolan is that, rightly or wrongly, Brian O'Nolan is known as Flann O'Brien almost exclusively, while Myles is known, still, as a persona. Geogre 12:23, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

If there's no consensus, my feelings aren't hurt, but it seems like both articles would be better served with a merge--even if Myles gets his own section, you know? If I were to merge them, I think I'd sectionize the personae, because he apparently uses different names for a reason, not just for kicks.
I suppose the really odd thing is that this article is under a pen name, but includes more than just the pen name. So really, this is a mess. I think the best thing would be to have the article at Brian O'Nolan, while also giving separate treatments to pen names, which could actually work out better, explaining the personae with context and stuff. NickelShoe 04:44, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

For what it's worth, I agree with you. We have, effectively, the biography of Brian O'Nolan under the penname, but that's because he's just not known by his English name (and one IP editor is furious that we even include it -- see above). The only thing the Irish-language folks would tolerate, I suppose, is the unambiguous "Flann O'Brien." Now, we can merge Myles into this, as, effectively, we have folded in the biography here, and redirect Myles here, but I wouldn't favor trying to put all this lot in Brian O'Nolan or Brian Nolan or the Irish version of his name or Myles. When I first wrote the article, years ago, I thought there couldn't be controversy. I was naive. The controversy at this point is at least sufficient to eliminate much consensus. (Short version: merge Myles into here, with a section on that persona, but "Flann O'Brien" is the proper master term.) Geogre 15:56, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

The Dalkey Archive - Skerries/Dalkey?[edit]

"The Dalkey Archive features a character who encounters a penitent, elderly James Joyce (who never wrote any of his books and seeks only to join the Jesuit Order) working as a busboy in the resort of Dalkey and a scientist looking to suck all of the air out of the world. "

I note that an edit which changed the above to "working as a busboy in the resort of Skerries" was reverted. I don't have a copy of the book to hand, but I believe Skerries is correct. This Google search throws up plenty of references to Joyce working in a bar in Skerries. The main setting of the book is Dalkey, but from my memory the narrator travels to Skerries to meet Joyce. --Ryano 12:59, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I was the origin of the misinformation, and I think you're right. He's working in the Skerries, so it should be changed. The editor was probably reverted by someone simply overturning some of the IP edits that go on, or possibly the editor added other information that was clearly false. Geogre 14:31, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Merge? yes. (and other remarks)[edit]

I'd support Geogre's remarks above regarding the merging of Myles into this article. A couple of other points:

  • Could someone in a position to do this add a complete bibliography of his works to the end of the article?
  • Could we have a date for his forced resignation from the civil servant?
  • The article says that O'Nolan "(according to Anne Clune/Clissman - a tenuous and subjective claim) due to his spiralling alcoholism never regained the heights of his early work". I don't find this very clear: is Ann Clune/Clissman making this claim and a Wikipedia editor saying that it is tenuous and subjective, or is it the other way round, and whichever it is, perhaps a citation would be in order for the non Clune-Clissman bit and a clear citation for the Clune/Clissman bit? And I see that Ann Clune is cited in the bibliography, but where does Clissman come into it?

OK, that's enough nits picked for this afternoon. Palmiro | Talk 14:03, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

FWIW, I think that "tenuous" thing came from a bit of an editorial battle. I think one anon added it, and then another editor/anon who had read the same things (and I haven't read any of them) put in that it was tenuous. My impression is that the allegation came from a hatchet job done on O'Nolan by one of his (numerous) detractors in Ireland. However, we really need some expert tender loving care here, with good references and explanations. I think that the really fiery editor who was mucking up has wandered off, and I never expected actual controversy lo those many years ago when I made a basic article on one of my favorite authors, but there is surprising heat here, and I think that's the origin of that claim and qualification. Geogre 14:28, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, O'Nolan was a notoriously cantankerous character, so I suppose it's only fitting that the article about him should feature such shenanigans. I seem to remember reading, perhaps in your man's book (you know who I mean) an account of seeing O'Nolan stumble homewards along the side of Merrion Square, hopelessly drunk and clutching onto the area railings in front of the houses for support, all the time repeating, "Fuck the fucking fuckers. Fuck the fucking fuckers". Palmiro | Talk 14:40, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Unreliability of Cronin biog[edit]

I have posted this note on Talk:At Swim-Two-Birds as well, but it's worth reprinting here: I've discovered two errors in Anthony Cronin's biography. One is that he gets wrong the title of the proto-AS2B story that O'Nolan published in Comhthrom Féinne; Cronin has it as "Scenes from a novel" but John Wyse Jackson (editor of Myles Before Myles), a man I take to have actually looked at the journal in question, gives it as "Scenes in a novel". The other is that Cronin gives the title of O'Nolan's MA thesis as "Nature in Irish Poetry", whereas anyone with a focal or two can clearly see that Nádúirfhilíocht na Gaedhilge translates as "Nature Poetry in Irish"; this is, at any rate, how Cathal Ó Hainle (who has way more Irish than me) translates it in Clune & Hurson's collection of essays on O'Brien. My own feeling is that these two elementary mistakes put Cronin's reliability in question, and advise (but, okay, maybe not "urge") contributors using him as a source to be on their guard. Lexo (talk) 15:51, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Cronin knew the man. He is blind as a bat though. I think you can forgive little mistakes like that for a first hand account. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:00, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

First hand accounts are often based on the subject's interests at the time, or to augment his fame, and must be read with about 20 reminiscences of other friends; then you have depth. (talk) 20:15, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

I respect the need for the guidelines on WP: Original research but sometimes I regret them. I'm sure most Myles readers will know of the celebrated section on WAAMA in the beginning of The Best of Myles, where trained escorts take you to the theatre and ventriloquise your half of the intelligent conversation, plus all the stuff about the book-handling service, where fake letters from famous authors are left in your books? My family inherited my grandfather's copy of The Best of Myles and stuck inside it is a genuine letter from O'Nolan to my grandpa, thanking him for an idea about WAAMA and coming up with ways to develop it. (This is not as unlikely as it sounds, since in 30s/40s Dublin my grandpa was a well-known writer.) Damn, I wish I knew a way to use that without it being original research. Lexo (talk) 15:58, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Wasn't Buchhandlung a rollover from the old Blather days? Maybe the letter was a joke on the part of your grandfather (one in keeping with the WAAMA theme). Have you tried to compare the handwriting with O'Nolan's (or, indeed, DJ's)? Rc65 (talk) 16:38, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

What Pseudonym Problem?[edit]

"hence the acute pseudonym problem in attributing his work today" What exactly is this problem? All the novels and the play are demonstrably the work of O'Nolan. A handful of Cruiskeen Lawn articles were written by Niall Montgomery but many of these have been identified (from cuttings among Montgomery's papers in the National Library of Ireland). O'Nolan also published in the provincial papers but the record of this is fairly complete, no? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:23, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

The pseudonym problem is pretty straightforward - no one really can get a handle on all of O'Nolan's writing - and he may have been embarrassed about some of it (pulp detective fiction...) There is a belief that O'Nolan was a much more prolific writer than simple searches would reveal. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:28, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

Biographical Content of the Article[edit]

I may have this wrong, but, looking at the article, there's very little information of a purely biographical nature. Most of it is taken up with the details of his writing career and style. While obviously its only right that the works take precedence and that a full account of his literary career be given, I wonder if there could be more detail about the other aspects of his life? His problems with alcohol aren't really treated, nor is his marriage. I'm afraid I'm not really enough of a Flann expert to undertake any expansion of the article myself. Thoughts? ANB (talk) 00:32, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

If you talk to people who knew O'Nolan, as I have, he really was pretty appalling when drunk (so, inter alia was Behan) - and to be blunt, he was also really obnoxious. O'Nolan stories abound, but few have been written down - the car engine story (Martin B. Slattery's pub, Garda, car engine, drunk in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle - no engine in car (it was in the pub on a dolly) so the vehicle couldn't be mechanically propelled); numerous drunk driving incidents - O'Nolan had in fact written Ireland's drunk driving laws and rules while in the Department for Local Government (one involved smuggling in a 'naggin' of whisky to the police station to confound the test (and ostentatiously drinking it in front of the desk sergeant while waiting for the doctor who was to draw blood - this was then widely imitated); cutting dead a friend who was a judge and part of the McDaid's circle when he recused himself form a drunk driving case involving O'Brien; drunken days in the 'Scottish House' bar, urinating on the carpet in a pub in front fo Nuala O'Faoilean; stealing Cully O'Mhaoney's leg (it fell off when O'Mahoney was drunk too) - he was not unusual for the McDaid's circle, but still he was somewhat of a mean drunk and by the time he was fired, his civil service peers loathed him.

For some reason people are unwilling to describe these things in writing - but the behaviour is still legendary 60-70 odd years later. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:39, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

Keats and Chapman's absence in the Works section[edit]

Given that Cruiskeen Lawn compilations feature in the list of works is there any reason for their omission? (talk) 09:23, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Connor O'Nolan[edit]

What is meant by a "glasses enthusiast"? A euphemism for heavy drinker, perhaps? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:27, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

"He caught cancer of the throat"[edit]

Is cancer catching, then? (talk) 15:18, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Been taken care of, at some point. Now reads "He suffered from cancer of the throat". --Thnidu (talk) 02:02, 3 August 2015 (UTC)


Any chance of adding the pronunciations and audio files of the Gaelic names Brian Ó Nualláin and Myles na gCopaleen? --Thnidu (talk) 02:08, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

Further reading / magazines[edit]

As I see it, the paragraph "Further reading" is about biographies of Brian O'Nolan and studies of his works. The addition of the magazines "Envoy" and "The Bell" do not belong there and should be, if at all, incorporated in the main text of the article - including references and / or examples substantiating O'Nolan's supposed "substantial contributions" to one, or the "seminal influence" the other had on his work. Albrecht Conz (talk) 06:10, 19 December 2015 (UTC)