Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Which I Celebrate Drunken Irish Novelists*

Let's take some time out of our very busy day (accomplished so far: gone to deli for milk, learned how to pronounce Justin Bieber in Spanish, drank coffee, briefly opened windows, closed them again, now eating oatmeal) to pay tribute to some of my literary heroes who also happen to be Irish!

After spending much of yesterday arguing about the correct spelling of Saint Paddy's Day (D's, not T's people!) I got to thinking about words, language, and the old sod. Apparently James Joyce didn't give a shit about spelling and made up a bunch of 100-letter words in Finegan's (sp? who cares!) Wake. I don't know, I never read that fucker. I'm just not smart enough, honestly. Anyhoo, so then I thought some more and realized that two of my all-time favorite scribes were Irishmen.

One: first love, Oscar Wilde. I had a children's edition of The Happy Prince and other Tales when I was tiny -- illustrated by Arthur Rackham, sigh.... so beautiful -- and loved, loved, loved it. Later, as a teenager, I learned Wilde was master of the bitchy one-liner, and my devotion was renewed. I still heart you, fatty.

Two: Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. The master, the absolute master, of gothic ghost stories. Along with M.R. James, one of my very very most beloved favorites, ever! There's a very comprehensive bibliography and link to articles here, and a very nice appreciation of J.S. by M.R. here. And here's a link to one of my favorite Le Fanu stories, The Sexton's Adventure!

Some smarty-pants critics have posited that some of Le Fanu's anxieties were rooted in his fractured identity as an Anglo-Irishman. Again, I'm not smart enough to know what this means. All I know is that he totally rules, so a toast to him! Hurrah for ghost stories, hurrah for mad novelists, and hurrah for holidays on which intemperance is celebrated, nay, encouraged!

* And here's a full list of Irish references on The Simpsons! You caught that Simpsons reference, didn't you? Of course you did, clever reader! That's why you really boil my potato!

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