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This article is taken from PN Review 136, Volume 27 Number 2, November - December 2000.

On Editing Gogarty A. Norman Jeffares

'Who was Oliver St John Gogarty?' and 'Why edit his Poems and Plays?' are questions many readers may ask. It is possible that they have read some of his poems in the Oxford Book of English Verse, the Oxford Book of Modern Verse, the Oxford Book of Twentieth Century Verse, the Oxford Book of Irish Verse, the Penguin Book of Irish Verse, and Faber Book of Irish Verse or in other anthologies. An anthologised poet then, but who was he? Some fewer readers, particularly if they are Irish, may have heard of his being kidnapped from his bath by the IRA in the Irish Civil War. They intended to shoot him as one of their reprisals (since he was a Senator in the Irish State) for Republicans shot by the Irish government because they had rejected the new state set up by the Treaty of 1922 and were carrying arms against it. Such readers may have heard of Gogarty's spectacular escape from his captors, his leaping into the Liffey under gunfire and surviving the mid-January cold and currents of the river, swimming some distance downstream to safety. They may also have heard of or read the exuberant George Moorelike portrayal of Dublin life in As I was Going Down Sackville Street (recently re-issued by the O'Brien Press, Dublin) which led to an Irish cause célèbre, the libel case which Gogarty lost in 1937, Samuel Beckett one of the plaintiff's witnesses. And a wider audience, notably of Joyceans, will regard ...


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