Bruce Arnold

Notes

Life
1936- ; b. 6 Sept., London; brought up by his father, a cashiered navy officer, one of five children he had with Rita after his divorce; ed. Kingham Hill, Oxfordshire, a philanthropic school and former orphanage; completed National Service in Britain; ed. TCD, 1957-61; grad. English & French (TCD Mod. Langs.); joined Irish Times, Nov. 1965; freelance from 1965; wrote for Irish Times, Irish Press, Sunday Independent, and [edited] Hibernia; acted as Dublin correspondent to Guardian; conducted the Dublin Magazine (1962-68), formerly The Dubliner, contribs. incl. ‘The Confines of Irish Art’, pp.74-79;
 
political commentator and parliamentary correspondent, Irish Independent, 1972; wrote four novels based on early life (The Coppinger Chronicle), 1978-83; won awards for outstanding contribution to journalism; also radio and television; London Editor of Irish Independent, 1986; Literary Editor, 1987; compiled Concise History of Irish Art (1968); issued political study of Charles Haughey’s government in the wake of the phone-tapping scandal, as What Kind of Country? (1984); joined Irish Independent as political correspondent, 1972; appt. literary ed. of Irish Independent; issued Orpen (1981);
 
issued Mainie Jellett and the Modern Movement in Ireland (1991); wrote the libretto for A Passionate Man by James Wilson, an opera on Swift in London, dir. Colman Pearce (Samuel Beckett Centre, TCD, June 1995); issued The Spire and Other Essays on Modern Irish Culture (2003); issued He That is Down Need Fear No Fall (2008), a memoir of childhood with his father George; issued The Irish Gulag (2009), a studies the Industrial Schools and their punitive regime; m. to Mavis; lives in Dun Laoghaire. DIL

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Works
Non-Fiction
  • A Concise History of Irish Art (London: Thames & Hudson 1969), another edn. (New York: Praeger 1968), 215pp;
  • Orpen: Mirror to an Age ed. (London: Jonathan Cape 1981);
  • What Kind of Country? (London: Jonathan Cape 1984);
  • Margaret Thatcher: A Study in Power (London: Hamish Hamilton 1984);
  • An Art Atlas of Britain and Ireland (London: Penguin/Viking, 1991);
  • William Orpen (Dublin: Town House 1991);
  • The Scandal of Ulysses (London: Sinclair Stevenson 1991; NY: St. Martin’s Press 1992); Do. [rep. as] The Scandal of “Ulysses”: The Life and Afterlife of a 20th-century Masterpiece (Dublin: Liffey Press 2004; PA: Dufour Edns. 2005), 325pp.
  • Mainie Jellett and the Modern Movement in Ireland (London: Yale UP 1991; NY: Yale UP 1992), 216pp;
  • Haughey: His Life and Un-lucky Deeds (London: HarperCollins 1993; pub. 1994);
  • A Passionate Man by James Wilson (1995) [libretto];
  • ‘“Those Who Seek to Obtain My Estate”: Swift on Love and Envy’, in Swift Studies, 11 (Wilhelm Fink Verlag 1996), pp.25-45 [memorial lecture at the Ehrenpreis Centre in Münster];
  • The Spire and Other Essays on Modern Irish Culture, foreword by Charles Lysaght (Dublin: Liffey Press 2003), 280pp.;
  • The Irish Gulag: How the State Betrayed Its Innocent Children (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 2009), 351pp.
  • with Jason O’Toole, The End of the Party: How Fianna Fail Lost Its Grip on Power (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 2012), 212pp.
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Fiction
  • [The Coppinger Chronicle]: A Singer at the Wedding (London: Hamish Hamilton 1978; rep. Abacus 1991);
  • The Song of the Nightingale (London: Hamish Hamilton 1980; rep. Abacus 1991);
  • The Muted Swan (London: Hamish Hamilton 1981; rep. Abacus 1991);
  • Running to Paradise (London: Hamish Hamilton 1983; rep. Abacus 1991).
Memoir
  • He That is Down Need Fear No Fall (Ashfield Press 2008)
Films
  • The Scandal of Ulysses; Images of Joyce [from Princess Grace Irish Library];
  • To Make it Live: Mainie Jellett 1897-1944.
Contribs. [among very num.],
  • ‘The State of Irish Theatre’, in The Dubliner (Sept. 2004), pp.46-52; ‘The State of Irish Theatre’, in Theatre Stuff: Critical Essays on Contemporary Irish Theatre, ed. Eamonn Jordan (Blackrock: Carysfort Press 2000), pp.59-66;
 

See also “Finnegans Second Wake” [review of Rose/O'Hanlon ed. of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce], in  Irish Independent (6 March, 2010); "Review: Literary Fiction: The Restored Finnegans Wake James Joyce – Edited by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon”, Irish Independent (19 May, 2012)

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Criticism
See Shirley Kelly [interview-article], in Books Ireland (April 2008).

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Commentary
Benedict Kiely, ‘The Coppinger Novels of Bruce Arnold’, Hollins Critic, 21 (April 1984), pp.1-12; rep. in A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999), pp.150-55. Kiely writes, ‘All Bruce Arnold’s people stay with you long after you have closed the novels and he writes so well that he markes the reader feel civilised’ (p.152).

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Jeanne Sheehy, review of Jack Yeats (Yale UP 1998), 418pp., in Times Literary Supplement (20 Nov. 1998), p.19; remarks on heavy reliance on work already done on family members devoted to arts by William Murphy, Gifford Lewis, and Hilary Pyle, here inadequately acknowledged; censures dearth of reference to his education and of information on the artistic attainments of Cottie; commends latter chapters (16 onwards) dealing with artistic life in Dublin during 1930s and 40s; registers disappointment at failure to deal adequately with the visual; cites Arnold’s contention that Yeats’s influences included Randoloph Caldecott, Phil May, William Nicholson, et al., and complains that this insight is ‘not backed up by the kind of analysis and comparison that would lend it weight’, deploring lack of illustration; Arnold refutes the notion that his late style ‘just happened’ but ‘never seems to get to grips with the problem’ of influence (viz., Oskar Kokoschka); considers that a new comprehensive and imaginative biography would give life to him and to his painting.

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Brian Fallon, reviewing Jack Yeats, in The Irish Times (3 Oct. 1997), Weekend, writes: ‘Hilary Pyle has already published a perfectly adequate life of him, but in the nature of things Bruce Arnold has taken the subject a stage further and his book is also longer and more elaborately produced.’ (q.p.) Note that Fallon chooses Arnold’s biography in “Review of the Year” column of the same paper [‘critic’s choose their books’, Irish Times, 5 Dec. 1998], and remarks that it is ‘well-researched and pretty authoritative’ and ‘should become … the definitive work on Yeats’s life for at least another 20 to 30 years.’

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Mannix Flynn, ‘A harsh history of the horror’, review of The Irish Gulag, in The Irish Times (30 May 2009), Weekend, p.11: ‘[... Arnold] catalogues overwhelming and damning evidence that the irish State was engaged in unlawful acts of such momentous proportions as to send shockwaves not only throughout Irish society but throughout the world. / This is a political work that will give people everywhere an understanding of what was happening in Ireland under a regime of brutality and fear. [...] it reveals how the State and the chruch were working hand in glove; how their pact was designed to involve the State in the protection of the church. The State here stands accused of astonishing incompetence and mendacity. As Arnold documents, [...] it “made no provision for controlling church assets and freezing them in respect of legal obligations over crimes of the most serious kind. It did the least it possibly could do in preventing the destruction of documents, or the transfer of money, belonging to the religious orders, out of Ireland. There were no penalties against individuals or organisations cited in the Redress Act for possible abuse. All they get are indemnities. The religious are indemnified for their very existence, for all but a small proportion of their expenses, and against any calumny whatever.” [...] Reader, your elected Government - your democratic State - defended itself and the church against the consequences of their hands in barbarous acts. And in realsing how members of an elected government conspired to elude justice at the expernse of democracy and accountability, we can understand just how controlled a people we are. They truth, they say, will set you free. Unfortunately, the truth of Arnold’s work will send you into shock and anger at just how devious the apparatus of a democratic State and government can be. The shock of this book will come when the public learns how far this State, its agents and servants, tried to pervert the course of justice. In condlucsion: there is no clonclusin, there is no closure, there is no healing. [...] As victims, each of us must own our own hurt - our own personal history. [...] As Irish citizens we must all take ownership of the hideous public history now being written so honestly and courageously by one of Ireland’s finest journalists. Go raibh míle mait agait, Mr. Arnold [...]’

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Notes
He That Is Down Need Fear No Fall (2008) tells of Arnold’s early life with his father George, a former navy officer cashiered after an affair with the admiral’s wife at the Dorchester; separated and ultimately divorced from Connie, George (d.1975) had five children with Rita (d.1943), among whom Bruce; subsequently entered a relationship with Irene, dg. of the Kingham Hill Sch. warden, who remained his life-long supporter though he fell deeply in love with Barbara Young (d. 15 May 2003), whose collection of letters from him up to his death - given to Bruce after her death - form the basis of the narrative.

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