Breandán Ó Doibhlin

Extracts from criticism

Life
1931- [occas. Monsignor Brendan Devlin]; b. Rooskey, Co. Tyrone; ed. St. Colum’s College, Derry, Maynooth, and Pontifical College, Rome; appt. Prof. of Modern Languages [var. French], Maynooth, 1958; ed. Irisleabhar Mhá Nuad; pioneered critical methods in modern Irish criticism; Néal Maidne agus Tine Oíche (1964), a story collection and winner of the Oireachtas Fiction Prize, as well as the Club Leabhar choice; issued Amhráin Dóchais (1970), poetry; Litríocht agus Léitheoiracht (1973), a mile-stone for Irish-language criticism, followed by Aistí Critice agus Cultúir (Dublin 1974) [essays]; Iseáia (Dublin 1975), later integrated in An Bíobla Naofa (1981); issued An Branar gan Cur (1979), a novel; also Pascal (1993); issued Aistí Critice agus Cuitúir II (1999); latterly acted as rector of the Irish College in Paris and received the Legion d’Honneur in Nov. 2001; he celebrated the requiem mass for Seamus Heaney, Donnybrook, 7 Sept. 2013. DIW

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Works
Poetry
  • Amhráin Dóchais: aistriúcháin ar deich ndán as an leabhar ar a dtugtar "An dara íseáia" nó "Leabhar Shólás Israel"] (Baile Átha Cliath: Foilseacháin Veritas 1970), 20pp. ill., 21cm. [?translation]
Fiction
  • Néal Maidne agus Tine Oíche (Baile Átha Cliath: Sáirséal Ó Marcaigh 1964; rep. 1998), 200pp., ill. port. [“The Poison Within” [var. “In”, trans. by Michael Cronin, was anthologised in Been There, Read That, ed. Jean Anderson, Victoria UP 2008, pp.65-70.],
  • An Branar gan Cur: Urscéal (Gilbert Dalton 1979), 218pp.
Drama
  • Iníon Mhaor an Uachta: Dráma [Ma Nuad - dhá chead bliain] (Blackrock: Preas Cholmcille [Columba Press] 1994), 76pp. [see note].
Literary Criticism
  • Litríocht agus Léitheoireacht [Oideas Mercier] (Corcaigh & Baile Átha Cliath: Mercier Press 1973), 63p.
  • Aistí Critice agus Cultúir (FoilseachÁin Náisiuacute;nta Teoranta [1973]), 279pp., and Do. [reps.] (1974, 1975);
  • Aistí Critice agus Cultúir II (Belfast: Lagan 1999), x, 125pp.
  • Manuail de litríocht na Gaeilge, 5 vols. (Baile Átha Cliath: CoisceŽim 2003- ) [see details].
Lexicography
  • Gaoth an fhocail: focloŽir analoŽgach (Baile Átha Cliath: SaŽirseŽal Ó Marcaigh [agus] CoisceŽim 1998), 222pp. [23cm.].
  • SanasaŽn diagachta (Baile Átha Cliath: CoisceŽim 2001), 164pp. [Catholic theology terms; parallel word-lists]
Translations
  • trans., Íliad [le] Hóimér - [trans. by] Seán Mac Héil [John MacHale]; réamhaiste le Breandán Ó Doibhlin [Leabhair I-VIII ] (Gaillimh: Officina typographica 1981), xvi, 241pp.
  • trans., Fabhalscéalta La Fontaine (Howth: Coiscéim 1997), 159pp. [revewed by Pól Ó Muirí, in Irish Times, 12.4.1997];
  • trans., Smaointe le Blaise Pascal [Pensées] (Baile Atha Cliath: Coiscéim 1994), xi, 233pp.;
  • trans., Ón Fhraincis [Fortnight Educational Trust](BeŽal Feirste: Lagan Press 1994, 174pp. [poetry of St. Francis of Assisi];
  • trans., An prionsa beag [Le petit prince of Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry (Dublin: Read Ireland 2007), 89pp., ill.
  • trans., Íseáia fáidh: arna thiontú ón Eabhrais faoi threoir ó easpaig na hÉireann ag Breandán Ó Doibhlin; i gcomhairle le Seán Ó Caoinleáin (Ascal Bhaile an Bhóthair: Foilseacháin Veritas; MÁ Nuad: An Sagart 1975), xxiv, 160pp., 21cm.; incls. introduction, bibliography (p.xxii), chapter & section headings, footnotes, maps; Imprimi potest dated Samhain 12, 1975 - i.e., New Irish Bible];
  • trans., Gargantua [by Rabelais], (Howth: CoisceŽim [2004]), xviii, 268pp. [ills. of Gustave Doré], 22 cm.
Miscellaneous
  • [as Brendan Devlin,] ‘The Gaelic League - A Spent Force?’, in The Gaelic League Idea ed. Seán Ó Tuama, (Cork 1972) [q.pp.]
  • ‘Nuachritic na Fraincise’, in Aistí Critice agus Cuitúir (Dublin 1974), pp.173-77;
  • ‘An Coimhthíos i Nualitríocht na Gaeilge: Nuachritic na Fraincise’, in Aistí Critice agus Cuitúir (Dublin 1974);
  • ‘An Phoblacht Abú’ in Scríobh 1 (1974), pp.13-23;
  • ‘Cré na Cille’, in The Pleasures of Gaelic Literature, ed. John Jordan (Cork 1977), pp.72-88;
  • ‘Smaointe ag Cursaí na Próslitríochta’, in Comhar (Lúnasa 1984), B, pp.22-24;
  • ‘In Spite of the Sea, An Irish Gael Looks at the Poetry of Sorely MacLean’, in Sorley MacLean: Critical Essay, ed. Raymond J. Ross & Joy Hendry (Edinburgh 1986) [q.pp.]
  • [...]
  • Cosaint na daonnachta [An aimsir óg, 5; Cultuacute;r Gaelach ser.] (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 2004), 41pp.
Journalism (sel.)
  • ‘Deoraíocht i gCulaithe Nua’, in The Irish Times (1 Jan. 1974);
  • ‘Cén Chúis nac Táilliúir Mé?’, in The Irish Times (15 Dec 1988);

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Bibliographical details
Manuail de litríocht na Gaeilge, 5 vols. (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 2003- ) - in five fascicles [vols.]
  • Manuail de litríochtna Gaeilge. Faisicil I - Ar imeall an Choncais, 1500 ( Baile Atha Cliath: Coisceim 2003; another edn. 2007), 176pp., ill. (some col.), col. map, 22 cm.
  • Manuail de litríochtna Gaeilge. Faisicil II - litríochtlinn an choncais, 1536-1616. Dara hEagrán [2nd edn.]. (Binn éadair, Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 2009), xv, 259pp., ill. (chiefly col.), col. maps; 21cm. [Bibliographical references, p.258].
  • [...]
  • Manuail de litríochtna Gaeilge: díshealbhú Faisicil IV - 1641-1704 (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 2008), xi, 297 p.: ill. (some col.); 21 cm.
  • Manuail de litríochtna Gaeilge. Faisicil V - 1704-1750: An Dubhaois (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 2009), 240pp., ill. (chiefly col.), facsims. (some col.); 21 cm.
  • Manuail de litríochtna Gaeilge. Faisicil VI - 1750-1850: maidneachan? (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 2011), xx, 313pp., ill., map; 21 cm.
Criticism
  • Micheál Mac Craith, ‘Léitheoir Cruthaitheach, Na Foinsí Liteartha atá ag Néal Maidine agus Tine Oíche’, in Irisleabhar Mhá Nuad (1971), pp.56-71;
  • Mac Craith, ‘Ceol an Dúchais, Comparáid idir Néal Maidne agus Tine Oíche agus Le Rivage Des Syrtes, in Irisleabhar Mhá Nuad (1972), pp.57-63;
  • MÓD, review of Néal Maidne agus Tine Oíche, in An tUltach (Bealtaine 1965);
  • Cormac Ó Cochláin, review of An Branar gan Cur, in Comhar (Meitheamh 1980), pp.15-20;
  • Ciarán Ó Coigligh, review of An Branar gan Cur, in Mangarae (Dublin 1987), pp.133-35;
  • Ciarán Ó Coigligh, ‘Sionnach I gCraiceann Eile’, review of Sionnach ar mo Dhuán, in Books Ireland (Sept 1989), pp.129-30;
  • Maolmhaodhóg Ó Ruairc, ‘Cumhacht an Ghrá in ag Néal Maidine agus Tine Oíche’, in Irisleabhar Muighe Nuadhat 1966), pp.81-94;
  • Liam Mac Coil, review of Aistí Critice (1999) in The Irish Times (13 Feb. 1999). [The foregoing cited in Alan Titley, An tÚrscéal Gaeilge, 1991.)

See also Alan Titley, ‘Turning Inside and out: Translating and Irish 1950-2000’, in Yearbook in English Studies (2005), remarks on O’Doibhlin, as infra; available online.

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Commentary
Alan Titley, ‘Turning Inside and out: Translating and Irish 1950-2000’, in Yearbook in English Studies (2005): ‘[...]A man in the same mould as Padraig de Brun is Breandan Ó Doibhlin. Both priest and scholar and former professor of French in St Patric’s College, Maynooth he has worked in a similarly unstinting way in his efforts to make Irish a modern and a thinking literature. He has written several novels of thought and reflection and worked out a style of his own which is both poetic and cerebral. He has produced a prodigious amount of critical commentary and technical literary work, which includes dictionary of Irish. In recent years his main focus has been on translation, particularly from the French which includes versions of La Fontaine’s Fables, Alain de St Exupery’s Little Prince, and much poetry. Perhaps his most important work of translation is, however, his Smaointe or Pensees of Pascal. / Pascal himself left about a thousand separate notes scattered around after his death, some very brief, and others longer. Editors have argued constantly about how to organize this material, and the first task of any translator is to knock it into some kind of shape. Ó Doibhlin does not follow any previous edition in its entirety but while making his own of the mess that is Pascal’s random jottings, acknowledges the order laid out by Jacques Chevalier. He then has to provide a language in Irish to suit these thoughts. This has its own difficulty, since Irish had not really been used as a language of philosophic discourse in any sustained way since the great rout of the seventeenth century. There, is of course, a mass of wealthy material from that earlier period, but it can hardly be transposed  holus bolus bolus; into the twentieth century without the dangers of incomprehensibility and some absurdity. There is the added difficulty that Pascal, for all his clarity, often used words in his own especial way, and this personal ideolect has to be similarly negotiated. / Ó Doibhlin manages this by initially explaining what the most salient of Pascal’s terminology is, and then provides us with a brief French-Irish vocabulary. He also, with a wicked sense of humour, gives us a selection of Pascal’s most famous thoughts for those who are too lazy to read the whole book. After that, we can plunge into it any way we like. His Irish is clear and uncluttered and brings a stylishness to the language that is logical and even cold. It is a language that is the opposite of De Brun’s warm embrace with his Kerry Homeric talk and heroic flourishes. Ó Doibhlin’s Pascal cuts to the quick, and though he is unfailingly courteous, you always feel that his words mean something. The purpose of a translation is not just to provide a style so that we can admire it, but to carry the message of the original. There is something calculating about much of Pascal’s philosophy, especially his famous ‘wager’ which surely must be the most spurious and mean-spirited reason for adopting Christianity ever invented. But there is also an honesty which springs from his own lack of guile and search for meaning. These traits are perfectly captured in Ó Doibhlin’s work. His selection of Montaigne’s essay is also a cool (in the non-American sense) mogrification of that classy introspector. While there is no such thing as stylistic equivalence in any real sense, you suspect that Ó Doibhlin has Gallified Irish and made it into a scalpel that can be wielded with some kind of accuracy as against the loquacity of the Irish mind which likes to show off rather than show.’ (Available at The Free Library - online.)

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References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, p.816; cited among recent experimenters in the modern Irish novel, in editorial essay by Eoghan Ó hAnluain [No bibl.].

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Notes
Iníon Mhaor an Uachta (1994) is a three-act play is set during the Plantation of Ulster, just before the 1641 Rising, telling how one of the nation’s national treasures, St Patrick’s Bell, was kept safe during the conflict. It won the Abbey Theatre award for plays in Irish in 1993.