Benedict Kiely (KEE-lee) was one of the finest twentieth century Irish critics, novelists, short-story writers, and journalists as well as an extraordinary travel writer and historicist. He was educated in Omagh by the Christian Brothers, and in 1937 he entered the Jesuit novitiate in County Laois but later decided not to pursue that vocation. He graduated from the National University in Dublin in 1943 and from 1945 to 1964 was active as a journalist with a number of Irish dailies, among them The Standard, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, and The Irish Press. After working as a visiting professor of creative writing at a number of American universities, Kiely eventually returned to Dublin, where he lectured at University College and wrote reviews and feature articles for Dublin’s major newspapers. It was as a short-story writer that he gained international attention and recognition, although his novels also helped forge his literary reputation of excellence. Kiely died on February 9, 2007.
Kiely received early success with the publication in 1950 of his critical assessment of Irish letters. With two of his own novels behind him, Kiely in his Modern Irish Fiction surveyed his country’s literature from post-World War I to midcentury, a time that had ushered in the writings of James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Frank O’Connor, Séan O’Faoláin, and Samuel Beckett. A work filled with sharp observations,...
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