James Clarence Mangan: A Biography (Works of James Clarence Mangan)

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9780716525585: James Clarence Mangan: A Biography (Works of James Clarence Mangan)

That Mangan is Ireland's foremost Romantic poet is by now a commonplace. The poetry of this self-proscribed 'Out-and-Outer' may have contributed to the picture of an eccentric genius writhing in romantic agony, far removed from the daily throng. But there was a public side to this private poet. In reality, from the age of 28, with his publication of the politically engaged 'The Two Flats: Our Quackstitution', this poète maudit remained in constant dialogue with the wider reading public. Prose afforded the poet his podium. And much of his mature poetry is contained within prose articles. In prose, Mangan taught, thought, deliberated, parodied, and afforded glimpses of himself which were hidden from his poetic alter ego. In his German and Oriental Anthologies, he opened up a world of literature to his Irish readers. Articles like 'A Sixty-Drop Dose of Laudanum' betray his mastery of the well-turned aphorism. Stories like 'The Man in the Cloak' manifest his light-hearted fascination for the Gothic. C.P. Meehan prefaced his pioneering Essays in Prose and Verse by J.C. Mangan with the apologetic observation that 'every scrap of writing from Mangan's pen . deserves to be rescued from the countless contingencies to which manuscripts are exposed.' Having rescued Mangan's work in our collected edition, we offer no such apology: our best of Mangan's prose shows a man with his finger on the pulse, following his one precept-not to bore.

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In the first comprehensive biography of the poet since D. J. O'Donoghue's appeared in 1897, Ellen Shannon-Mangan has written a study as readable as it is scholarly. The product of almost twenty years of research, James Clarence Mangan: A Biography gives readers a definitive portrait of a man who has been both mythologized and neglected for almost 150 years. Although Mangan was the most important Irish poet writing in English before William Butler Yeats, his life-long refusal to publish in England virtually guaranteed his obscurity. Availing himself only of the periodicals printed in Ireland, he still published hundreds of poems and prose pieces. The poet of 'Dark Rosaleen' never left Ireland, and rarely left Dublin, yet in thought and imagination he journeyed from Siberia to Arabia and from Ireland's ancient past to the terrible present of the Famine. His literary career began in 1818 when he was fifteen, and the last poem to appear before his death - in 1849 - was 'The Famine'. He wrote for such nationalist papers as the Comet and the United Irishman as well as for the prestigious Dublin University Magazine and the influential Nation. Nevertheless, only one collection of his poetry was published during his lifetime. His complete poems will appear for the first time as part of the series of which Shannon-Mangan's biography is the first volume. This compelling narrative sweeps away some long-retailed myths about Mangan - that he suffered a life of unrelieved poverty, that he had only one love affair which left him soured on women forever, that he was friendless and always alone, and that he was swathed in perpetual gloom. At the same time, the author examines the poet's early childhoodas the source of his eccentric behaviour, his dependence on alcohol and perhaps opium, and the role that the supernatural and his belief in it played in his life. Shannon-Mangan depicts a startlingly modern man who in spite of errors and weaknesses created a body of work unrivalled in its time.

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