The contents have been intriguingly divided into eight narrative threads that influenced and informed O'Connor's oeuvre. War includes the famous 'Guests of the Nation', set during the Irish War of Independence; Childhood draws on autobiographical writings to present a revealing picture of the author as a boy, the only child of an alcoholic father and doting mother; Writers bears witness to his literary debt to Yeats and Joyce. The stories in Lonely Voices movingly demonstrate O'Connor's theory that in this genre can be achieved 'something we do not often find in the novel - an intense awareness of human loneliness'; yet they are counterparted by his wonderfully polyphonic tales of family, friendship and rivalry in Better Quarrelling. In Ireland come poems, stories and articles inspired by the native land he loved but never sentimentalized, while from Abroad the writer in exile discourses upon universally relevant themes of emigration, hardship, absence and return. Finally, Last Things contains O'Connor's thoughts on religion, the church, the soul and its destiny, but remains above all a celebration of humanity 'who for me represented all I should ever know of God'.
Frank O'Connor was the pseudonym of Michael O'Donovan who was born at Cork in 1903. Largely self-educated, he began to prepare a collected edition of his works at the age of twelve and later worked as a librarian, translator and journalist. When quite young he learned to speak Irish and saturated himself in Gaelic poetry, music and legend. When he was interned by the Free State Government he took the opportunity to learn several languages, but it was in Irish that he wrote a prize-winning study of Turgenev on his relase. 'A.E.' began to publish his poems, stories and translations in the Irish Statesman. Meanwhile a local clergyman remarked of him, when he produced plays by Ibsen and Chekhov in Cork, that: 'Mike the moke would go down to posterity at the head of the pagan Dublin muses.' Frank O'Connor lived in Dublin and had an American wife, two sons and two daughters. He published Guests of the Nation, his first book, in 1931, and then followed over thirty volumes, largely of short stories, in addition to plays. Frank O'Connor died in 1966. Introducer Biography. Julian Barnes's novels include Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the World in Ten-and-a-half Chapters and Arthur and George. He has also published collections of short stories and essays and most recently, a memoir, Nothing to be Frightened of.