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Global Literary Journalism

Exploring the Journalistic Imagination, Volume 2

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Edited By Richard Lance Keeble and John Tulloch

Following on from the first volume published in 2012, this new volume significantly expands the scope of the study of literary journalism both geographically and thematically.
Chapters explore literary journalism not only in the United Kingdom, the United States and India – but also in countries not covered in the first volume such as Australia, France, Brazil and Portugal, while its central themes help lead the study of literary journalism into previously unchartered territory. More focus is placed on the origins of literary journalism, with chapters exploring the previously ignored journalism of writers such as Myles na gCopaleen, Marguerite Duras, Mohatma Gandhi, Leigh Hunt, D. H. Lawrence, Mary McCarthy and Evelyn Waugh.
Critical overviews of African American literary journalism in the 1950s and of literary journalism in Brazil from 1870 to the present day are also provided, and a section asks whether there is a specific women’s voice in literary journalism.
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3. Never Myles from the News: The “Meta-Journalism” of Myles na gCopaleen

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CHAPTER THREE

Never Myles FROM THE News

The “Meta-Journalism” of Myles na gCopaleen

IAN KILROY



Author, satirist, critic, civil servant and cynic, Brian O’Nolan (1911–1966) was a man of many masks. Writing under a plethora of nom de plumes throughout his career, he was at times the novelist Flann O’Brien, at others the cult Irish journalist Myles na gCopaleen. Under this latter name (Irish for “Myles of the Little Ponies”1), he produced one of the funniest and longest-running columns in Irish journalism. His Cruskeen Lawn slot in the Irish Times ran regularly from 1940 until his death in 1966. At more than three million words of filed copy (Wheatley 2011: 3), it stands as a monument in Irish newspaper culture.

In recent years, O’Nolan’s work has seen something of a revival. This is thanks, in part, to the popular HBO television series Lost, where O’Nolan’s greatest novel, The Third Policeman, figured in the plot and resulted in 15,000 copies of the work being sold in the three weeks after the relevant episode’s broadcast.2 However, the success of his literary fiction was entirely overshadowed in his lifetime by his journalism (Cronin 1989: vii). Indeed, as Anthony Cronin points out in his biography of the writer, during O’Nolan’s life, what is his most celebrated work in fiction today remained unpublished, with his fading reputation as a novelist resting on his earlier work, At-Swim-Two-Birds (1939)...

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