Donleavy, who has died aged 91, was much under the influence of James Joyce at the time, and The Ginger Man is a dense book, with a stream-of-consciousness narrative that dips in and out of the first and third persons. But the wit and invention soon take hold. A score of publishers in Britain and the US turned down the novel in one or other of its early drafts. Then Brendan Behan tipped Donleavy off about a small publisher of English-language books in Paris, which had Samuel Beckett on its list, and Donleavy packed off his sheaf of pasted-together pages to Olympia Press, unaware that, although they did indeed publish Beckett, the main thrust of the business was pornography. Even at the time — the novel was submitted in and published the following year — The Ginger Man could hardly have been mistaken for a dirty book unlike, say, Lolita , which Girodias also published.

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This classic twentieth century Irish novel has been rereleased in a special hardback edition by Lilliput Press in time for the sixtieth anniversary of its publication. Purportedly studying for his degree in Trinity College, Dangerfield instead finds elaborate and self-destructive ways to squander what little money he and his young family have left. Dangerfield is a rogue, a devil, and his ribald, picaresque wanderings are as laugh-out-loud funny as often as they are horrifying.

Henry Miller appears to have had quite an influence on Donleavy in the writing of this book, seen both in its literary inventiveness, and especially in his depiction of explicit language and sex. Donleavy writes these passages with particular glee, as if taunting the censors, daring them to be outraged. Although altered versions went on sale in the UK and America, unsurprisingly, the book was banned in Ireland.

More than the explicit content, perhaps its biggest crime was the unflattering depiction of Dublin. Children running barefoot in the streets in the middle of winter and men wagging their things at you from doorways.

Written in a distinctive and inimitable style, the sentences are clipped, truncated, and the narrative jumps — seemingly at random — between third person, stream-of-consciousness, standard first person, and back to third person again.

Be made for the world. But the world was made for me. Here long before I arrived and they spend years getting it ready. Something got mixed up with my assets. Arguably the highlight of this bonus material, however, is an essay by Bill Dunn on the complex and fraught publishing history of The Ginger Man — a history as dramatic and, at times, absurd as the life of Sebastian Dangerfield himself.

He certainly did. He has been shortlisted for numerous other awards, is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and his fiction has appeared in publications in Ireland and abroad, including The Stinging Fly, Ambit and The Penny Dreadful. Cookies are yum so we use them to make your HeadStuff experience more yummy. If you want to know more about our chocolate chips, please visit our Privacy Policy page.

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A Visit to Donleavyland, Sixty Years After “The Ginger Man”

By: J. Behan got the first part right. To celebrate its sixtieth year of publication, as its author approaches his ninetieth, The Lilliput Press marks the occasion with a new, beautifully enanced hardback edition, as well as asigned andnumbered edition, limited to copies. The Ginger Man is simply one of the great comic novels of post-war Europe — an anarchic, light-hearted, rambunctious twentieth-century classic following the social and sexual peregrinations of a footloose American student on the streets and in the pubs of Dublin. The Ginger Man is the picaresque novel to stop them all. Lilliput Press — July 18,


JP Donleavy obituary

Banned in the United States on its original appearance, J. Now marking sixty years since its first publication in Paris, it remains a witty, irresistible modern classic. He barely has time for his studies as he avoids bill collectors, makes love to almost anything in a skirt, and tries to survive without having to descend into the bottomless pit of steady work. Unruly, willful, and wholly devious. This lyrical, comic wonder was introduced to me by Hunter [S. Every man should read this, and spend at least one evening in his life impersonating this unapologetic horror of an individual! Sebastian Dangerfield, the lecherous, treacherous, larcenous and thoroughly charming Ginger Man, appears to be immortal as well as immoral.

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