Bruce Arnold

Critic of Public Affairs, writing about art, theatre, music and politics

The Yeats family – together again for one last time...

You should arise and go see the ultimate exhibition on the life and work of WB, Jack and co, says Bruce Arnold

'The one golden recipe for Art is the ferment of an unhappy childhood working through a noble imagination."

Cyril Connolly's memorable quote could have been written with the Yeats family in mind.

Part of the their story– the whole of it will never be told – is to be found in a uniquely comprehensive collection of the written works of the Yeats dynasty, father and four siblings, that goes on exhibition this month at Maggs Bookshop in London's Berkeley Square. Read More...

Review: Literary Fiction: The Restored Finnegans Wake James Joyce – Edited by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon

Finnegans Wake begins in mid-sentence. We are reading the second half of a wonderfully obscure, but beautiful, piece of phrasing beginning a description of the Liffey and the sea and of Dublin Bay.

All are parts of the story, embracing James Joyce's elusive but vast epic vision of the world that brings to an end the writing triumph of his life's work as an artist.

The first half of the sentence is at the end of the book. And like a broken link in a chain, forged again in the white heat of the writer's mind, the great loop of the book imposes a perfect circularity and self-reflexive intra-textuality on the enclosed events. Read More...

Louis MacNeice’s Struggles with Ireland

After a first visit to the city a friend of Louis MacNeice’s said to him: ‘Dublin? Dublin! There’s no such place. It’s just one enormous pub.’ MacNeice said this about one of his last visits, in June of 1962, for the opening of the Joyce Tower at Sandycove. ‘At a conservative estimate the drinking during my seven days averaged twelve hours a day’.

The opening, by Sylvia Beach, came towards the end of his stay. His drinking companion for much of the time was Dominic Behan. The morning of Bloomsday was spent in Davy Byrne’s and when they emerged, hoping for a seat in one of the two cabs freshly painted in black and yellow, they found them full. The two men loaded a crate of Guinness into a taxi and set off, one of them brandishing a bottle out of the left-hand window, the other waving one out of the right-hand side. At the Martello tower, MacNeice was said to have stationed himself at the entrance to the marquee ‘in easy reach of the passing drink-trays’. Read More...

Finnegans second wake

The impenetrable Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, is about to be reborn and, for Joyceans, the event will stain the white radiance of eternity with its effulgent rays of truth and comprehension.

In terms of Irish literature, it is the greatest publishing event since Joyce's previous masterpiece, Ulysses, appeared in 1922, [and was reborn in 1984]. In the eyes of some, it may even be a greater event. Read More...

Monuments to One Artist's True Genius

Edward Delaney: Irish sculptor who broke the mould

Edward Delaney, who died this week, was one of Ireland's foremost sculptors. He is best known for his large statues of Irish patriots that adorn the capital -- especially Wolfe Tone in Stephen's Green and the Thomas Davis fountain on College Green. Read More...