Jack White

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1920-1980 [William John White]; b. Cork; ed TCD; journalist with The Irish Times, and London Editor in 1946; m. Edna [q.d.]; Irish Times Literary Editor, 1952; Head of Publ. Affairs Programmes, RTÉ, 1962; Assist. Controller, 1963; Controller, 1974-77; Dir. Broadcasting Resources, 1977-80; plays, The Last Eleven (1968), played at the O’Malleys’ Lyric Theatre, Belfast; Today the Bullfinch (1970), unpub.; also 3 Irish novels, One For the Road (1956); The Hard Man (1958), and The Devil You Know (1962); reputedly involved in affair with Máire de Paor when he died suddenly of heart attack in Germany; his son Stephen (1945- ) is a Kremlinologist; his daughter Victoria is a published short-story writer, Arts Editor on The Irish Times, author and partner of Eamon Ryan of the Irish Green Party. IF DIW DIL DIW OCIL.

[ top ]

Works
Novels, One For the Road (London: Jonathan Cape 1956); The Hard Man (London: Jonathan Cape 1958), and The Devil You Know (London:Jonathan Cape 1962).

Plays, The Last Eleven, in Robert Hogan, et al., eds., in New Abbey Plays, Vol. II (Newark: Proscenium [1980]), q.pp.

Miscellaneous, Minority Report: The Anatomy of the Southern Irish Protestant (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1975); also ‘Myles, Flann and Brian’, in Myles: Portraits of Brian O’Nolan (London: Martin, Brian & O’Keeffe 1973), pp.62-76. See Augustine Martin, Bearing Witness: Essays on Anglo-Irish Literature (UCD Press 1996).

[ top ]

Commenatry
Bruce Arnold, review of The Lonely Girl [with novels by Jack White], in The Dubliner (July-Aug. 1962), pp.68-69: ‘[...] Jack White, at a more metaphysical level than Edna O’Brien, writes about adultery and fornication. Not exclusively, but these things figure fairly largely in the relationship of the man and women in his society. Jack White attempts to lay bare the emotions in a dispassionate manner . In The Devil You Know these activities, and love, centre in one man. They lead to a suicide, the awakening of a young woman’s sensibility and to other crises of conscience and morality. The story revolves around the character of Myles Keating in a formal and slow manner, somewhat like the weaving of a maypole. Keating, a historian, is invariably looked at from outside, explored by actions as they are seen by characters closely connected with him in one way or another. The exegesis of him is not entirely satisfactory; far better is the author’s treatment of the periphery characters whose function it is to explain Keating: they tend rather to acknowledge him but to explain themselves. / Jack White writes well but not with a consistent enough style. The flow of the novel, and hence the final shape, is jagged. The author is exercising too much restraint. One is tempted to say LET GO! Occasionally he does “let go”, as in one of the final scenes in the book, set in a church, where the diminishing Protestants are seen through the compassionate and doomed eyes of the best drawn character, Helen Furnival. But this sort of thing comes all too rarely. / The Hard Man, Jack White's second novel, has been reissued as a Jonathan Cape paperback, priced 3s. 6d. It is concerned much more with public morals, official corruption and human frailty, and is set in Dublin, now. The hero is more conventional than Myles Keating, tells his own story and talks about himself. It is a more vigorous novel, but timid in its exploration of emotional motives and actions. It is instructive to read it before reading the latest novel ; Jack White has developed in style and in command of his material and in his approach in the intervening four years. But in becoming more profound in the later novel there is, looming vaguely in the background, a faint danger of tedium.’ (p.69.)

[James Simmons], ‘Mary O’Malley of the Lyric Players Theatre’, Honest Ulsterman, No. 1 (May 1968), pp.32-34: ‘there was something very beautiful about the loving care that was lavished recently on The Last Eleven, ‘an imperfect play by a relatively unknown writer’. (p.35.)

[ top ]

Quotations
Minority Report (1975): ‘It is no harm to begin by stating the obvious, because it is only against the background of the obvious that one can begin to make fine distinctions. Protestants were accepted as equal citizens in the new state; and the law reflected the will and demeanour of the people. There were individual cases of outrage or discrimination, but these are remarkable mainly as exceptions to a general pattern of conduct. Protestants kept their jobs, their homes, their property, their savings. They kept their own institutions - their schools, their hospitals and the like and these institutions received perfect parity of treatment from the state and its servants. The Protestant churches and their property were handled with kid gloves; it is amusing, in retrospect, to look back on the dire warnings of oppression and expropriation that were sounded throughout the Home Rule debates. Fifty years after independence the Church of Ireland still has two cathedrals in Dublin, and the Roman Catholic Church has none. It is not easy to think of another case in which a defeated ascendancy has been treated with such exemplary generosity by a victorious people. An Irish democracy converted a privileged minority into an equal minority, not into an underprivileged or subservient minority. Most of its problems - real and imagined-arose from the fact that the minority itself was too tiny and too scattered to exercise any influence through the normal machinery of democratic government.’ (p.92.) [Gives full account of cases of prejudice and various contemporary positions on them.] In conclusion: ‘What is most remarkable, perhaps, at a range of over forty years, is that the government of the day was prepared to face such pressures, political and clerical, in order to assert the equal [101] rights of the minority. Nevertheless, as the shadow of Mr de Valera loomed larger, Protestants found themselves increasingly hemmed in by the three orthodoxies - the republican orthodoxy, the Gaelic orthodoxy, and now the Catholic orthodoxy. It is all the more remarkable that, within twenty years, they found themselves in the position of supporting Mr de Valera, because he was seen as the only man strong enough to take a stand against the bishops.’ [END; see full text, infra.] See also quotation in J. H. Whyte, Interpreting Northern Ireland (London: OUP 1991): ‘There is no single cause that contributes so much to the embitterment of inter-faith relations as the rule of the Roman Catholic Church concerning mixed marriages.’ (p.153).

[ top ]

References
Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama (1987, cites RTE film, The Last Eleven, script jack White, dir. Michael Barry (1968).

[ top ]

Notes
Kith & Kin: m. Edna; elder dg., Melissa was fnd.-member of USIT exec., later emig. to Australia; Stephen, his only son, holds a chair at Glasgow Univ. and has published works on the society elite and others in the are such as How Russia Votes (1997); Victoria [q.v.], a very much later child was one-time Arts Editor at The Irish Times, resigning to have a family with her husband Eamon Ryan, Dep. Leader of the Irish Green Party, prev. published a well-received book of stories, Raving Autumn and Other Stories (June 1990).

Flann O’Brien: Jack White supplies memories for the Flann documentary on “Bowman” on RTÉ Radio 1 (9 Sept. 2011; uploaded on 9 Oct 2011) in the form of a collection of interviews from the RTE archives of those who knew Flann O'Brien including Ben Kiely and others. Hear and see online [accessed 01.01.2017.]

[ top ]