Neil Jordan

1950- ; b. Sligo, son of professor of education, his mother being a painter; ed. St. Paul’s College, Raheny, and UCD, commencing in English literature and turning to Medieval History; member of “Eyeless” band with others. incl. Niall Stokes (b. 1951; later Hot Press founding ed.); first worked as labourer and teacher, then with the Children’s Theatre Company, Dublin; for a time as a musician; began writing with short story, “Last Rites”, in which an Irish labourer slits his wrists in a bathing house at Kensal Rise; contrib. to David Marcus’s New Irish Writing; also contrib. to Stand, London Magazine, and Journal of Irish Literature; with Steve MacDonogh, Dermot Bolger, Desmond Hogan, and Ronan Sheehan, fnd. member Irish Writers’ Co-Operative, 1975;
issued Night in Tunisia (1976; London 1979), title-story of which was described by Sean O’Faolain as ‘one of the most remarkable stories I have read’, and winner of Guardian Fiction Prize 1979; turned to film with his script of Travellers (1980); issued The Past (1980), a novel centred on a jealous character recreating his past love; dir. Angel (1982), a film for C4, spotted and distributed by Stephen Woolley; issued The Dream of a Beast (1983), novella; dir. Company of Wolves (1984), based on a story of Angela Carter, prod. by Woolley; awarded Best Director by British Critics Circle, 1984; dir. Mona Lisa (1986), with Bob Hoskin’s as a London cabby infatuated with a high-class prostitute; also produced by Woolley, taking a Bafta Award, and earning an Oscar nomination for Hoskins;
dir. High Spirits (1988), with Peter O’Toole, the tale of an Anglo-Irish family who arouse real ghosts in setting their home as a “ghost house” for American tourists, disowned by the director on account of lavish Hollywood production add-ons (‘a dreadful heartbreaking experience’); dir We’re No Angels (1990), a comedy with Robert de Niro; dir. The Miracle (1991) [var. 1990], in which a boy in Bray, Co. Wicklow, falls in love with a woman who turns out to be his mother; dir. The Crying Game (Autumn 1992), a transexual encounter on the part of a refugee from the Northern Irish troubles and reluctant gunman in London [Stephen Rea];
winner of an Oscar for the screen-play, March 1993, triggering a revival of the Irish Film Board [Bord Scannán] with £2.5m. funding; dir. Interview with the Vampire (1994), with Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Cruise, based on a novel by Anne Rice; and Sunrise with Sea-Monster (1995), a novel set against War of Independence and concerning love of father and son for the same woman; Michael Collins (1996), with Liam Neeson as Collins; filmed Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy, in 1999 with Eamonn Owens as Francie and Stephen Rea as his father, and Fiona Shaw as Mrs. Nugent, for Warner Brothers, also writing the screenplay;
wrote the script for Joe Comerford’s Traveller (q.d.); dir. Not I as part of the Gate’s Samuel Beckett Film Project; dir. In Dreams (1999), a psychological horror-film with Annette Bening and Aidan Quinn, unsuccessful; issued The End of the Affair (Feb. 2000), based on the Graham Greene novel, with Julia Moore, Ralph Fiennes and Stephen Rea; made The Good Thief (2001) [var. Double Down], his 13th feature film, with Nick Nolte, based on Le Flambeur (1955), Jean-Pierre Melville’s film noir; acquired film rights to Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People (2003); lived at Martello Tce., Bray, and later at Sorrento Terrace, Dalkey, with his partner Brenda Rawn, their two small sons and two of his three other children; issued Shade (2004), a story of love, murder and lost innocence within a family living in the Boyne Valley;
sometime winner of PEN award for life-time achievement; there is a documentary with in-depth interview, dir. Philippe Pilard (2006); issued Mistaken (2010), his fifth novel, with a Doppelgänger theme, being centred on northside Kevin and southside Gerald, two boys in the Sixties who find themselves continually mistaken for each other and gradually learn to exploit their interchangeability; issued The Drowned Detective (2016), about a private eye searching for a child missing for 20 years in an run-down Eastern European city; Jordan lives at 2 Martello Terrace Bray, Co. Wicklow. DIL DIW FDA OCIL

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Short Fiction
  • Night in Tunisia (Writers’ Co-op. 1976; London: Hogarth Press 1979);
  • Collected Fiction of Neil Jordan (Vintage 1997), 400pp
See also work included in David Marcus, ed., in Best Irish Short Stories (Elek 1976).
  • The Past (London: Jonathan Cape 1980);
  • The Dream of a Beast (Chatto & Windus 1983; Hogarth Press 1989);
  • Sunrise with Sea-Monster (London: Chatto & Windus 1995), and Do. (London: Vintage 1996; rep. 2004), 192pp. [issued in US as Nightlines];
  • Shade (London: John Murray 2004), 326pp.;
  • Mistaken (London: John Murray 2010), 320pp.
  •  The Drowned Detective (London: Bloomsbury 2016).
  • Sunrise with Sea Monster, selected extracts appeared in Irish Times Weekend, 17 Dec. 1995.
Scripts (sel).
  • Angel: Screenplay, intro. by John Boorman, (London: Faber 1989), 50pp.;
  • Michael Collins: Screenplay and Film Diary (London: Vintage 1996), 165pp., ill. [8pp. pls.]..

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  • Lori Rogers, Feminine Nation: Performance, Gender and Resistance in the Works of John McGahern and Neil Jordan (Maryland: Univ. Press of America 1998), v, 154pp.;
  • Emer Rockett & Kevin Rockett, Neil Jordan: Exploring Boundaries (Dublin: Liffey Press Press 2003), 316pp. [makes use of Jordan’s papers in NLI];
  • Jane Gilles, The Crying Game [Mod. Classics] (BFI 1997), 80pp.
  • Marguerite Pernot-Deschamps, The Fictional Imagination of Neil Jordan, Irish novelist and Film Maker: A Study of Literary Style, with a foreword by Desmond Fennell (NY: Edwin Mellen 2009), vi, 150pp.
  • Carole Zucker, The Cinema of Neil Jordan: Dark Carnival (London: Wallflower Press 2008), 204pp.
  • Conor McCarthy, ‘Film and politics: Neil Jordan, Bob Quinn and Pat Murphy’, in Modernisation: Crisis and Culture in Ireland 1969-1992 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2000), [Chap. 4], pp.165-27;
  • Neil Murphy, ‘Neil Jordan: Dissolving Selves’ [Chap.4], in Irish Fiction and Postmodern Doubt – An Analysis of the Epistemological Crisis in Modern Irish Fiction (Edwin Mellen Press 2004);
  • Aubrey Dillon-Malone, Michael Collins: A Neil Jordan Film [Movies made in Ireland ser.] (Dublin: GLI Ltd. 1996), 59pp.
  • David Lloyd, Ireland After History (Cork UP 2000) [chapter-long critique of The Crying Game];
  • Harvey O’Brien, ‘Local Man, ‘Global Man: Masculinity in Transformation in the Horror/Fantasy of Neil Jordan’, in Global Ireland: Irish Literatures for the New Millenium, ed. Ondrej Pilny & Clare Wallace [IASIL Conference 2004] (Prague: Litteraria Pragensia 2005), pp.122-32.
  • Val Nolan, ‘“He Sees His Own Face Reflected”: Representations of Eamon de Valera in the Fiction and Films of Neil Jordan’, in Essays In Irish Literary Criticism: Themes of Gender, Sexuality, and Corporeality, ed. Deirdre Quinn & Sharon Tighe-Mooney (Mellen Press 2009) [q.pp.]
  • Marianne Brace [‘meets the novelist and film-maker with a poetic vision’],
  • ‘Neil Jordan, the writing game’, in Saturday Independent [UK] (14 Jan. 1995);
  • Neil Jordan talks to Sue Lawley, Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4 (Jan. 2000);
  • Michael Dwyer, ‘Double Take’ [ interview-article], in Irish Times Magazine (7 July 2001);
  • [q.auth.,] ‘Mr Dark’s Lighter Moment’, in The New York Times (Sunday 6 April 2003), Arts Sect., pp.13-22.
  • [....]
—For numerous further reviews and critical remarks, see under Commentary, infra.

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Maurice Harmon
Michael Dwyer
Vincent Browne
Seamas McSwiney
Alan Riding
Hugh Linehan
Richard Kearney
Des O’Rawe
Luke Gibbons
Patrick McGrath
Eileen Battersby
Helen Brown
Arminta Wallace

Maurice Harmon, ‘First Impressions: 1968-78’, in Terence Brown & Patrick Rafroidi, eds., The Irish Short Story (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979), writing of the story “A Love” in Night in Tunisia and Other stories: ‘Already in this story the momentum is to transcend occasion and setting; the interest on memorable, evocative, or definable moments leads away from specific place and event, even though it tethers itself securely to them. In the title story, another account of adolescence in search of self, in search of love, in ambiguous relationship with the father, the circumstances of place are also well-realised, but they are drawn into the story, made part of its imaginal design, to which they give metaphorical richness. Everything in the story, place, incident, dialogue, description, becomes evocative of the tirne and state of adolescence. The story is rich in implication and suggestion; it creates atmosphere, feelings of time and place, moods, fleeting relationships. Its movement is neither consecutive nor chronological, [75] but fluid, wave-like, resonant, always evocative of more than appears in any one passage. [...] / Against the background of long summer days, seaside, games of tennis, aimless hours, Jordan portrays the relationship of the boy with his father, a musician. Knowing the boy’s potential, the father would like to teach him to play well, but the son, rejecting him, defiantly tinkles out rubbishy tunes on the piano. The relationship is at once particular and symptomatic: on the one side, the loving urge to transmit knowledge, on the other, the involuntary urge to rebel. Above and beyond both man and boy is the sound of Charley Parker’s playing of “Night in Tunisia” a catalyst that brings the boy out of his adolescent inertia; in that scale of values, differences are diminished [...] / The music is expressive both of adolescent need and of adult aspiration and the understanding that comes to both. It is also an analogy for the style of the story and what it seeks to evoke in words. / It could be said that Jordan’s work subsumes the emphases and conditions already noted in his contemporaries: the avoidance of nationalism, the indifference to social and religious concerns and the unembarrassed treatment of sexual matters. He is different from the others in his view of character, in his affinity with overseas writers, like Borges and South American writers, above all in his style; the evidence is that an individual talent is finding itself slowly but surely. [...]’ (pp.75-76; for full text, see RICORSO Library, “Irish Critical Classics”, infra.]

Michael Dwyer, ‘Blood Simple, Jordan talks to Michael Dwyer’, in The Irish Times (7 Jan. 1995): Jordan wanted to make film of Pat McCabe’s The Butcher’s Boy; also plans film on Michael Collins (”I don’t think it will make Conor Cruise O’Brien very happy, you know?”). See also Michael Kerrigan reviewing Sunrise with Sea Monster (Chatto & Windus 1995), Donal Gore’s father is war of Independence veteran who makes unsuccessful bids for office and suffers inability to get over loss of beloved wife; uncomprehending and resentful relationship with son, fondly remembered by latter only moments when they set nightlines on the beach; Donal taken to fringes of Republican groups and into Spanish Civil War; awaits execution in cell with others; explains his presence, ‘of all courses of action I could have taken it was the only one I knew with certainty that my father would have disapproved of’; reviewer calls this expedient the only mode of communication wopen to those whose interiority has been so much at the mercy of external forces; comments that Jordan suggests that Irish life has left her people all to little free time and personal space in this century; sea’s rhythms pervasive, guaranteeing Ireland’s separateness; WWII neutrality; Ireland misses out; work of considerable imaginative richness in which every image tells (Times Literary Supplement 13 Jan 1995). See also damning review by James Simmons in a Listener issue, [?] January 1995. ALSO ‘Return to Form, Neil Jordan’, interview with Books Ireland (Feb. 1995), pp.5-6.

Michael Dwyer, ‘Double Take [...] the story of an unlucky gambler’, interview-article with Neil Jordan, in The Irish Times Magazine (7 July 2001), pp.19-23: His 13th film, inspired by Jean-Pierre Melville’s Bob le Flambeur (1955), now with Nick Nolte as the lead Bob Mantagnet, an American gambler and thief who has ended up in the South of France, down on his luck and out of money, with a heroin habit fed by young Algerian (Ouassini Embarek); meeets Anne (Nuts Kukhiandize), a young east European prostititute; detective Roger (Tcheky Karyo); sets out to rob Riviera Casino on ‘one last job’ ; shot in Nice rather than Deauville where the original was shot. [Ports of Jordan].

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Vincent Browne, ‘Neil Jordan, Profile’, in Film West, 20 (Spring 1995), pp.32-34: the article, which gives a narrative account of successive films by Jordan, ends with a paradoxical compliment from Stephen Rea (who appeared in Angel and The Crying Game): ‘He likes to see himself as an innocent lost in a hard world ... but he’s about as innocent as Henry Kissinger. I’ve seen these dreamy and romantic poets and they’re the most ruthless of the lot. They have to be to get listened to. Like all the great directors, he knows what he wants and he gets it.’

Seamas McSwiney, ‘Treaty makers & film makers’, interview with Neil Jordan, Film West (Autumn 1996), pp.10-16; also in this issue, Muiris Mac conghail, ‘A True Epic’, comment], p.20-21; Vincent Browne, ‘Rebel hearts’, 22.

Alan Riding, ‘Challenging Ireland’s Demons With a Laugh’, in New York Times (29 March 1998): ‘To Mr. Jordan, though, it was the book’s mood that struck a familiar chord. Although five years older than Mr. McCabe and reared in a middle-class, book-friendly home in Dublin, Mr. Jordan remembers the Ireland of the early 1960s as poor, introspective, dominated by the Catholic Church and still scarred by centuries of British rule. Even in the early 1970’s, when Mr. Jordan joined other young Irish working as a laborer in London, “we carried around a sense of inferiority almost like an overcoat”, he said. Today, in a land that is increasingly prosperous and self-confident, that Ireland is hard to discern. / “Francie’s story could not happen now”, Mr. Jordan, a stocky, dark-haired man, said over lunch in a restaurant in Dublin’s Temple Bar district, the heart of the country’s bustling arts world. “It’s definitely a portrait of things as they were in the 1960s. For one thing, there are few priests in schools nowadays. There’s huge consciousness of the level of abuse that went on. A kid could not be ignored like that. There are child-care services now. But The Butcher Boy is a very good account of how things actually were.” / [I] n that sense, then, the movie does fit into Irish cinema’s attempt to probe aspects of Irish history and society that until recently no one dared to address because, in Mr. Jordan’s words, “discussion of them was so politically loaded.” This was certainly the case with the film about Michael Collins, who became a hero for fighting the British and was then murdered in the civil war that followed Irish Home Rule in 1922. In “The Butcher Boy”, the Ireland of 35 years ago looks no more appealing, a reminder to today’s youth of how bleak things were not so long ago.’ [&c.; supplied by S. Hicks, Irish List, Virginia.]

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Hugh Linehan, Thursday Interview with Neil Jordan [Irish Times, 3 Feb. 2000]: plans to cast Julianne Moore from The End of the Affair (Feb. 2000) in Not I as part of the Gate’s Beckett Film Project; ‘they [American critics] really hated In Dreams!’; also Interview with the Vampire (1995); quotes, ‘You can’t write a novel anywher, you can only write it in your home, I think. I haven’t done it in a long time. Prose is really hard, particularly if you’re not in practice. I think writing is a habit as much as anything else.’ Exec. Producer on film adaptation of Bowen’s The Last September; four years on the Irish Film Board, to 1998; ‘what struck me is that the persistent energy in Ireland is still in writing, although there’s some good directors coming up’; ‘I don’t know how successful it’s been, this establishment of an Irish movie industry. There’s been a lot of movies made that haven’t been seen or released. There’ve been some very good ones, but I don’t think as yet there’s a thing that you could call new Irish cinema. It’s not for lack of effort - the input from the powers-that-be has been enormous. I just think we’ve still a lot to learn. No particular culturae or experience is interesting in and of itself. It’s made interesting by the perspective of the author or the film-maker. There’s myself and Jim Sheridan and Pat O’Connor. We should be getting booted out by younger and more aggressive talents, but we don’t seem to be as yet, which to me is a pity.’

Richard Kearney, Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture (Dublin: Wolfhound 1988): ‘Angel debunks the orthodox portrayal of Irish political violence and deromanticises several of its stock motifs - most notably that of the national hero at arms. Rather than conforming to any specific ideology, this film exposes the hidden unconscious forces which animate ideological violence, irrespective of its Republican, Loyalist or British Imperialist hue. Jordan’s cinematic exploration of the psychic roots of violence permits him to cut through ideological conventions and discloses that fantasy world of inner obsessions which, he believes, is the source of both our political and poetic myths.’ (p.175; quoted in Conor McCarthy, Modernisation, Crisis and Culture in Ireland, 1969-1992, Four Courts Press 2000, pp.175-76.)

Des O’Rawe, review of Emer Rockett & Kevin Rockett, Neil Jordan: Exploring Boundaries, in Fortnight (June 2003): ‘This study is particularly strong on Jordan’s practices and priorities, and [...] demonstrate[s] the extent to which Jordan, at his best, bridges the gap between “writing” and film-making, where writing - literature - is a companion to film-making rather than its opponent.’ Remarks that the approach taken ‘risks rendering Jordan’s “anti-realism” as a gimmick, or worse as simply another peculiar product of an imagination struggling to find a metaphysical alternaive to Irish Catholicism and post-nationalist angst. / Jordan’s relationship to the mysteriousl and the miraculous, the sublime and the sacred, is more complex than this and certainly his own views on this question do not suggest that he possesses, or even eants to possess, a way of resolving this ambiguity. For Jordan this is an important, and very productive, ambiguity, and it is one “boundary” question that awaits further analysis.’

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Luke Gibbons, review of Emer Rockett & Kevin Rockett, Neil Jordan: Exploring Boundaries (Liffey), in The Irish Times (10 May 2003), Weekend, p.11: ‘[…] The tendency to go round in circles – Michael Collin’s fatal revisiting of his birthplace, the charred remains of the ballroom in Angel, Francie Brady’s search for “Beatiful Bundoran” in The Butcher Boy (1997), or Jimmy’s repetition of his own conception overlooking the promendade in Bray in The Miracle (1991) – is related to the fraught and complex variations on the Oedipal triangle which recur in Jordan’s work. In the emotional underworld of these films, two is company but three is a couple (to quote the psychoanalysist Adam Phillips). If the past few decades have witness a concerted attempt by Irish women to get out from under the shadow of “Mother Ireland”, this takes on a Gothic twist for the beleaguered males in Jordan’s films, who in their quest for – or escape from – primordial attachments, find themselves repeatedly returning to the scene of a crime. / Or maybe the crime is in the return itself. More often than not, Oedipal relations consist not so much in two men competing for the love of the same forbidden woman but struggling with their forbidden love for each other.Throughout their study, the Rocketts point out that no more than with “reality”, “normality” is also one of the first casualties of a Jordan film. Boundaries are there to be crossed, but yet a sense of hubris remains that somehow there are larger forces at work which are not subject to choice, lifestyles or the mutations of desire. This is starkly brought out in The Crying Game where, for all the erotic masquerade and startling reinventions of sexuality, the story still turns on the parable of the scorpion and the frog, in which the scorpion kills the creature who helps him across the river for no other reason than that “it’s in my nature”. The authors quote the American critic, bell hooks, to the effect that the crossing of boundaries “does not disrupt conventional representations of subordination and domination”, and it is perhaps this thin line between mere inversion and subversion which has fuelled the prodigious creative energies of Jordan ‘s work in the past three decades. / Commenting on Ulysses, James Joyce remarked on one occasion that only a transparent sheet separated it from madness. For the characters in Neil Jordan’s films, that sheet is the camera lens itself, and the authors of the present book are, to ‘be commended for adding their own critical focus to the work of this most versatile and visionary of Irish film-makers.’ (For full text, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

Patrick McGrath, review of Mistaken by Neil Jordan, in The Guardian (15 Jan. 2011): ‘The problem with Mistaken is a doom-laden cloud of insinuation that hovers over the story and saps its vitality. From the start, much is made of Kevin having grown up next door to Bram Stoker’s house. As Kevin often has to explain to others, Stoker wrote Dracula. Kevin makes frequent reference to “my vampire”, but it’s never really clear who or what that vampire is, apart from possibly a paedophile in a black beret who makes a brief appearance before being frightened off by Kevin’s mum. Or maybe the term is being used as Mary Shelley used it in Frankenstein, as a synonym of soul, as when the doctor regards the Creature “in the light of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave”. / It’s irritating that the novel is addressed throughout to “you” – that is, to Gerald’s daughter. This young woman, first encountered in a graveyard, drifts around the periphery of the plot and is almost never referred to by name: less a character than a pronoun. Her allusive significance never really becomes clear, particularly since rational explanations for all the real mysteries emerge close to the end. In terms of its manipulation of gothic tropes, Mistaken fails to arouse the deep unease and sudden, horrified recognition we require of the genre. / It’s far more successful, however, in its depiction of Dublin characters and places.’ (For full text, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

Eileen Battersby, review of Mistaken, in The Irish Times (24 Dec. 2010), Weekend Review. ‘[...] Possibly the finest element in this novel of many strengths is the dialogue. Kevin speaks to us as if he were sitting across a table. Equally, the other characters, even at their most dreamlike, such as the troubled mother, or his inept old father and a nervous young working-class girl aware that sex is the barter for romance, all convince. It is both monologue and ensemble piece. Kevin tells the story. A fragment of it is his, but the rest is a drama he was forced into as an unwitting understudy, a hapless proxy wandering into situations. [...] Early in life Kevin begins to realise that he is being accused of deeds he hasn’t done; girls approach him with a knowing familiarity. There are other unsavoury encounters. He is being mistaken for another boy, Gerry. This happens throughout his life. Even as a mourner at Gerry’s funeral the dead man’s dog seems to recognise him or, at least, acknowledge the similarity. His double is privileged, unhappy and dangerously reckless. [...] But Kevin has other problems: a fragile, doomed mother and a chilling awareness of a vampire that tracks his movements. But then imaginative, haunted Kevin grew up in a house next door to where Bram Stoker once lived. The vampire motif glides through the narrative as one of many inspired touches. [...] Kevin makes a career out of architectural drawings; Gerry, the High Court judge’s son, attempts law but becomes a writer. [...] Themes from Jordan’s previous fiction prevail: the lost mother, Dublin as a theatrical setting, Ireland’s literary legacy, a marginalised self facing exile. Possibly the only other Irish writer possessing the stylistic panache to write this novel would be John Banville, and there are slight echoes of Mefisto (1986). But this is Jordan’s moment; he alone has pushed narrative and has broken free of everyone. Irish fiction needed a cohesively great novel, pulsing with darkness, intelligence and revelation. Here it is.’ (See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

Helen Brown, ‘Neil Jordan: Interview’ [dated 14 Jan. 2011], in The Telegraph (25 Feb. 2011), quotes: “I’ve never understood this fevered kind of madness in these doubles stories that the narrator seems to enter into, and the writer … The bundle of emotions I talk about in this novel, I know them very well, it’s more of a kind of nagging suspicion, a sense that you haven’t really lived your own life, that you haven’t lived the life that you should have. / “This is about a very real sense of loss. That’s far more satisfying to write about.” / Jordan has been asked to make a film of the book but is reluctant to do so; his relationship with Kevin and Gerry is one he feels he can best explore through prose. / “I suppose the reason one uses fiction, that fiction exists, is because you can have these different personae and these characters have an independent life through which you then filter all kinds of personal stuff. That seems to be the nature of the game … Of course Kevin and Gerry are both absolutely a part of me.” (See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

Arminta Wallace, notice on Mistaken, in The Irish Times (2 July 2011) - Weekend Review, “Paperbacks”: ‘It begins as a kind of exasperated joke: one Dublin boy constantly being mistaken for another. Kevin Thunder is thrown out of shops on Grafton Street and arcades on O'Connell Street for crimes he never committed; he also finds himself getting up close and intimate with girls he has never met before. As he and his southside doppelganger gradually grow into men, however, the stakes get higher and the story gets stranger. Mistaken is a literary novel with the constant menace of a thriller and the driving narrative momentum of a murder mystery. Add to this the razor-sharp observation and the sheer beauty of the writing and you have something quite remarkable. (Don't even try to factor in Jordan's other career as a successful Hollywood director: you'll start to get dizzy.) Written in short chapters, each of which bears the name of a location, the story swirls like a mist around its dark heart; themes of love, loss, family, the self, class consciousness, Dublin. Mistaken has everything.’ (p.13.)

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Irish movies: ‘I think the attraction of people of Irish movies is a bit like the attraction of people to South American fiction … They see very strong direct raw - powerful narrative - coming out of a coutnry which has many aspects to it … ]Ireland is] half a contemporary culture, it’s half part of the cosmopolitan work, and it’s half rather bruised and rather unknowable at the same time. […]’ (Jordan, quoted in anon., paper proposal, IASIL 1999.)

Very Irish: ‘the attempt to imagine another state of living, another way of being is, I believe, very Irish. It’s something to do with the quest for another place and another manner of thinking. It’s a dissatisfaction with the accepted and scientifically approved explanations of the universe.’ (Neil Jordan, in Across the Frontiers - Ireland in the 1990s, ed. Richard Kearney, 1988, p.198; cited in Breda Dunne, An Intelligent Visitor’s Guide to the Irish (Mercier 1990).

Irish identities: ‘In many ways, the war of independence was not too far from civil war or not too far from a war about different concepts of what it was to be Irish.’ (Jordan, speaking on The South Bank Show, LWT, 27 Oct. 1996; reprod. in DVD version of Michael Collins.)

Our mistake ... ‘Our mistake was to assume that we could be at home in a single nation. We fed ourselves on ideologies of violence and instant salvation, the illusion that history is a continuum moving forward to its perfect destiny. We thus forgot that we can never be at home anywhere. Perhaps it is one of the functions of writers and artists to remind the nation of this. To expose old ideologies. To feel in exile abroad and also when one returns home. To remain faithful to the no-place (u-topos) in us all.&146; (‘Imagining Otherwise’ 1988; in Across the Frontiers: Ireland in the 1990, ed. Richard Kearney, Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1989, p.199; quoted in Liam Harte, Reading the Contemporary Irish Novel, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell 2013, Introduction [epigraph] - available online.

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’Co-operation’ (on the foundation of the Irish Writers' Co-op)

Bad as the situation that faces publishers is today, the one that faces new writers is nothing short of crippling. It is a good many years now since a new novelist was taken on by an Irish publisher— in fact, as far as I know, the only novel brought out in Ireland by an Irish writer in the last two years has been Peadar O’Donnell’s Proud Island, published by the O’Brien Press. So in a sense the position fiction finds itself in is similar to the one that faced poetry several decades ago. A writer can publish in the various magazines and periodicals in Ireland—the most stable and worth while of these being the New Irish Writing page in the Irish Press—and if he’s lucky, he will broaden his scope to include such English and American periodicals as Stand, London Magazine and Transatlantic Review. Here, however, the outlets will stop. And where there used to be a comparatively even passage from the prestigious literary periodical to book publication, the most the new writer can hope for today is the anthologised story. A published first novel seems an impossibility.

It was to alleviate this situation that several of us got together nine months ago and formed the Irish Writers’ Co-operative. We all knew of novels that should be published and that, in happier times, would have been. Four of our members were Hennessy Award winners and all of us have published in a wide variety of magazines here and in England and America. So we had all, in one way or another, encountered the situation first hand. The only option seemed to be for the writers themselves to create the outlets. We set about doing this, with the support of the Arts Council, and our first published work will appear this month. It is a novel by Des Hogan, whose play A Short Walk to the Sea was produced in the Peacock last autumns. It is called The Ikon-Maker and is precisely the type of work we wish to publish since it is firmly rooted in the tradition of Irish postwar fiction and it relates that tradition to the generation of which Des Hogan is a part. The novel in fact eminently represents the value of an art-form that is in danger of dying, if some action is not taken.

We hope to create outlets for writers that are at present unavailable. We regard publishing as a major outlet, a major facet of the dialogue between a writer and a public. It is not the only one, however, and the co-operative is at present organising readings for fiction writers in schools, youth-clubs, factories—anywhere an audience is to be found. And hopefully the interests thus generated will eventually broaden that public.

We plan initially to publish two novels a year, together with a shorter fiction series, intended to provide more permanent outlets for individual short stories. The initiative we have taken however depends on a good response, and anyone with an interest in our publishing or our reading project is urged to contact us.’

- Neil Jordan: Books Ireland Archive Online: May/June 1976.

Fred Johnston writes in Facebook (1 May 2016): I reproduce this piece by Neil from an article published in 1976 on the founding principles of The Irish Writers’ Co-operative. As I’ve noted with regret, this invaluable organisation is relegated to the fogs of forgetfulness by a new generation of writers for whom the Co-op and Co-Op books forged a path, to the point where I suspect many of them believe publishing novels was always an easy thing. Following a spate of letters, mainly to The Irish Times, in which I mentioned co-operative publishing on the Scandanavian line (of that time) I received a call from playwright Peter Sheridan, and a meeting was arranged with Neil Jordan and he at Captain America's restaurant in Dublin’s Grafton Street. The publishing of a book by one Des Hogan was discussed. Eventually, we took turns editing the manuscript for publication. It was 1976. That is, 42 years ago. A number of our contemporary novelists weren’t yet born. The rest is, or should be, literary history. (See also cover-image of The Ikon-Maker under Des Hogan - supra.

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Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama: A Society and Its Stories (RTÉ 1987), lists Miracles and Miss Langan, Neil Jordan/dir. Pat O’Connor (1979); Night in Tunisia, 314, 325-6, Neil Jordan/Pat O’Connor (1983); Sean [13 epis.], Michael Voysey, Neil Jordan, Eugene McCabe/Louis Lentin (1980).

Kevin Rockett & John Hill, Ireland and Cinema (1988), Angel [380; 383-4, Neil Jordan; extreme tendency to use Northern violence without dealing with it].

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, selects Night in Tunisia and Other Stories, title story [1101-06]; BIOG, 1136, b. 1951; he established the Writers’ Co-Operative, 1974; worked with theatre groups in Ireland, England, and America and has had plays produced; well-received films include Angel, Company of Wolves, Mona Lisa [n.dd]; lives in Bray; The Past (1980); The Dream of a Beast (1983; 1989); stories, Night in Tunisia and Other Stories (Co-op. 1976; 1989).

Peter Fallon & Seán Golden, eds., Soft Day, A Miscellany Of Contemporary Irish Writing (Notre Dame/Wolfhound 1980), selects ‘Fragment from a Novel in Progress’ [?The Past].

Irish Short Stories, ed. David Marcus (London: Bodley Head 1980; Sceptre rep. 1992), selects ‘Night in Tunisia’.

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Sunrise with Sea Monster (1995): ‘ostensibly a boy’s adventure about wars, spies and being in love with your stepmother, it seems unworthy of the acclaimed director’ (See Fortnight 336, Feb. 1995; report on reading and question session at Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast, 12 Jan. 1995.)

Shade (2004): a tale of friendship between classes and the brutality of war; begins with a murder amid an idyllically portrayed childhood at a large house near the Boyne estuary (“Mozambique”), involving a beautiful only child with an illegitimate half-brother and a working-class friend who is not just a gentle giant. (See notice by Arminta Wallace, Irish Times, 11 June 2005.)

Michael Collins (1996), a film aiming to keep ‘out of the realm of hagiography and mythology’, with Liam Neeson as the central character, Stephen Rea as Broy, and Aidan Quinn as Harry Boland (dir. of photography Chris Menges); winner of Venice Film Festival, 1996.]

Stephen Woolley: the producer Stephen Woolley worked first with Jordan on Company of Wolves (1983), and afterwards on Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, The Butcher Boy, Michael Collins and Breakfast on Pluto. Woolley also produced Absolute Beginners (dir. Julien Temple), the Brian Jones biopic Stoned, and Made in Dagenham(See Donald Clarke, writing in The Irish Times, 2 Oct. 2010, Weekend/Arts, p.8.)

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