Benedict Kiely Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Benedict Kiely published several novels, a number of which are set in his native Northern Ireland; others are set mainly in Dublin or in a mixture of Northern Ireland and Ireland. There Was an Ancient House (1955) is based on his year as a Jesuit novice; Proxopera (1977) deals with violence in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s. His nonfiction includes Counties of Contention (1945), on Northern Ireland; Poor Scholar: A Study of the Works and Days of William Carleton, 1794-1869 (1947), a life of the nineteenth century Irish novelist; Modern Irish Fiction: A Critique (1950), literary criticism; A Raid into Dark Corners: And Other Essays (1999); and The Waves Behind Us: Further Memoirs (1999). For many years Kiely wrote weekly travel pieces for the Irish Times; he also published numerous book reviews and critical essays. He was the editor of several anthologies and published children’s literature, such as The Trout in the Turnhole (1995).


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Benedict Kiely was a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. He also received an honorary doctorate of letters from the National University of Ireland in 1984.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Casey, Daniel J. Benedict Kiely. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1974. In this introductory essay, the author tends to cast Kiely as a traditional Irish storyteller. This approach is a reliable guide to one of Kiely’s most important characteristics, but it needs to be developed more fully than in this rather generalized work.

Dunleavy, Janet Egleson. “Mary Lavin, Elizabeth Bowen, and a New Generation: The Irish Short Story at Midcentury.” In The Irish Short Story: A Critical History, edited by James F. Kilroy. Boston: Twayne, 1984. The new generation in question is the one which emerged in the 1950’s. Kiely is correctly identified as one of its important members. The case for Kiely’s distinctive contribution to the genre is plausibly, if briefly, advanced. A sense of that contribution is clarified by Kiely being seen in the context of the Irish short-story’s development.

Eckley, Grace. Benedict Kiely. Boston: Twayne, 1972. The most comprehensive account of Kiely’s work. In particular, the significance of the relationship between his fiction and nonfiction is discussed. Kiely’s novels also receive an attentive reading. Supplemented by a useful chronology and a bibliography.

Foster, John Wilson. Forces and Themes in Ulster Fiction. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1974. The most...

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