Introduction

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O'Connor, Frank (Pseudonym of Michael O'Donovan) 1903–1966

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An Irish short story writer, novelist, critic, editor, and translator of ancient Gaelic works, O'Connor sets his stories in Ireland. However, his warm sense of humor, his realism, and his strong development of character give his writing universality. O'Connor lived in the United States during the latter part of his life. (See also Contemporary Authors, obituary, Vols. 25-28.)

James T. Farrell

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There is a sensitive tenderness in Mr. O'Connor's ["The Saint and Mary Kate"] that overrides its patches of irony. Likewise, because of his skillful use of indirection, he is able to portray that melodrama and extravagance so apparent in many Irish lives without being himself melodramatic. The background of his novel is a tenement in the town of Cork that bulges with the sorrows and pitifulness of the poor. The two principal characters are Mary Kate and Phil, whose hopeful youth stands out in contrast to the frustrations of the older people they know….

Mr. O'Connor's book is serious and genuine. Its strongest pages are those which retail the pitiful and almost heart-breaking lives of the poor. He is, unquestionably, an Irish novelist who should be read.

James T. Farrell, "'Inheritance', 'Sons' and Other Recent Novels: 'The Saint and Mary Kate'," in The New Republic (reprinted by permission of The New Republic; © 1932 The New Republic, Inc.), Vol. LXXII, No. 934, October 26, 1932, p. 301.

Diana Trilling

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There is an Irish lilt to the dialogue and an Irish color to the scenery of Frank O'Connor's stories, even at their most melancholy, which, because it gives them a dimension of the strange, also acts to give them literary dimension. But emptied of local color, the stories in "Crab Apple Jelly" don't at all carry, for me, the weight that others have felt in them. I find them sweetly sad, sadly suggestive, or even a touch frightening at moments, but never more than in the way of the skilfully rendered pastiche. (p. 697)

Diana Trilling, "Fiction in Review: 'Crab Apple Jelly'," in The Nation (copyright 1944 by the Nation Associates, Inc.), Vol. 159, No. 23, December 2, 1944, pp. 696-97.

V. S. Pritchett

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[Mr. O'Connor] has little or none of the professional Irishman in him or of the brothiness, feyness, sentimentality, that mar so much of Irish writing. At his best he is more truthful, lucid and substantial than any other Irish realist now writing and in … [An Only Child, his autobiography,] his talent is sure.

His story is by turns painful, hard, tragic, comical and sardonic. It is remarkable throughout for the portrait of his mother….

[The] book ceases to be merely one more account of a life and hard times by a clever novelist and discloses the growth of a mind and a governing idea. To liberate himself from the humiliations of slum life and its picaresque slavery the boy made a religion of education. (p. 1049)

V. S. Pritchett, "A Fighting Childhood," in New Statesman (© 1961 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), Vol. LXI, No. 1581, June 30, 1961, pp. 1049-50.

Deborah Averill

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A reader of Frank O'Connor's stories notices at once their atmosphere of warm intimacy. His concern with human contact originates in his sense of human isolation and it pervades his work; characters continuously touch each other, lie in bed discussing their problems or fall in love, and the narrative itself reflects a lively compassion which gives...

(The entire section contains 7281 words.)

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O'Connor, Frank