Aug 1, 2011

Rejoice! Re:Joyce! Frank Delaney Is in the House

Today I'm privileged to have a guest post by Jamie Chavez.

I am a fan of Irish writers, contemporary and not so: Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Flann O’Brien, Fergal Keane, Seamus Heaney, William Trevor, John Banville, Roddy Doyle, Patrick McCabe, Nuala O’Faolain, Tana French … I could go on (and no doubt will in future posts). As Wikipedia reminds us, for a comparatively small island, Ireland has made a pretty large contribution to world literature. You were exposed to some of these in school, I’m sure, and while being force-fed a short story or poem or play in a high school English class isn’t the best way to learn to love Irish literature, there’s good reason to do so.

So let me tell you about Frank Delaney. I was given the first in his “Novel of Ireland” series some years ago. Called, simply, Ireland, the story is set in 1951 and is about the last surviving seanchaí (itinerant storyteller) in the country. Frankly, it took me some time to warm to the book, but when I turned the final page, kids, I was knocked out. There’s a lot more than meets the initial eye, and I was impressed by both the finely crafted tale and the gorgeous writing. Other books in this series are Tipperary, Shannon, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, and The Matchmaker of Kenmare (I haven’t yet read the last two, but I delighted in the series’ first three).

Born in County Tipperary, Delaney moved to England as a young man, where he had a distinguished twenty-five-year career as a creator of BBC documentaries on both literary and Irish subjects. He also began writing books, was a panel judge for many literary prizes, and is still a well-known lecturer. He moved to the United States in 2002.

James Joyce
But it is Delaney’s most recent project I’m betting will charm you as it does me. Called Re:Joyce, it is a deconstruction of James Joyce’s famous novel Ulysses in five- to seven-minute line-by-line podcasts. They’re fun, they’re smart and entertaining, and they’re everything you need to work your way through this stream-of-consciousness literary masterpiece. Like the novel itself, this is an ambitious project. It’s taken Delaney a year to get through the first chapter, and his website says he’ll see you there, every Wednesday, for the next twenty-two years. (He’s sixty-eight years old as of this writing, but I wouldn’t bet against him.)

Honestly, I haven’t read Ulysses—it’s 265,000 words, y’all (of Joyce’s works I’ve read only Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)—but I have listened to quite a few of Delaney’s podcasts and they’re enchanting. Here’s the episode from June 16, which celebrates Bloomsday, a celebration of the life of James Joyce and an informal reenactment of the events of the single day that passes in the thousand or so pages of Ulysses. Enjoyce!

Jamie Chavez is an editor, writer, and blogger. 
This article reprinted by permission, © 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Did you read Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show?? I enjoyed it!!!