Monday 2 February 2015

O'Sullivan, Mercier, Notes

This is really, maybe, a 'Libraries Prequel...' I wrote these notes last month to answer some of the queries I get about my piece on Mercier's The Irish Comic Tradition...'Sullivan%2C%20On%20First%20Looking%20into%20Mercier's%20The%20Irish%20Comic%20Tradition.pdf

January 2015 
Some notes on 
Article (OSulliv2004First) 
O'Sullivan, P. 
On First Looking into Mercier's The Irish Comic Tradition 
New Hibernia Review, 2004, 8, 152-157 

John Bayley
I have just heard the news of the death of John Bayley, who is mentioned in my piece. Where his name is spelt 'John Bailey'. I do not know how that happened. Might even be the Curse of Autocorrect, as the text was passed from hand to hand. For such a small piece this article needed a lot of negotiation with editors. Witness the correct academic American English usage in 'an homage'... 

 John Bayley, who was a kind and good teacher, is mentioned in my article as, perhaps, denotative of a certain approach to texts, involving close, sensitive reading. He was a decent man. 

Here is The Guardian's Obituary...

Kensington Library, Liverpool
is the little local library remembered with gratitude. When I was writing the piece I looked around for some pictures of the building, partly to prompt memory. I was writing for an austere academic journal - so no pictures could be used. At one point in the writing of the piece there was a danger that it would become a study of the libraries rather than of the book. Finding pictures has become much easier with the passage of time. It was, and still is, a very fine little building. There is a note about the building by Reg Towner, and a very nice drawing at 

Reg Towner also directs us to a photograph... 

Designed by Thomas Shelmerdine for Liverpool City Council, funded by Andrew Carnegie, of course. Built 1890, modified 1897 - with the addition of that bigger wing. Which I like - I like the off balance look of the building. 

The Victorian Society has a useful leaflet at 

And a web search for Thomas Shelmerdine will find more odds and ends. The Everton Public Library, Liverpool - also designed by Shelmerdine - is used by Alistair Black for some general pontification. Which I do not object to...

Everton Public Library 
Alistair Black 
Victorian Review Volume 39, Number 1, Spring 2013 pp. 40-44 

He summarises some of the discussion about these buildings, and these resources. All under threat, now. 

It was there, when we needed it, where we needed it... 

Picton Reading Room, Liverpool, and Bodleian Library, Oxford

It is easy enough to find pictures of these places online. 

The Picton Reading Room and the surrounding buildings have recently, 2010-13, been given a make-over... 

Hard to judge from photographs - but have they done something to the floor levels within the Picton Reading Room? 

When I gave up being a probation officer I went to the Bodleian Library - to repair my prose style. There I did the reading and the research to write 

Incollection (OSullivan1989literary) 
O'Sullivan, P. 
Swift, R. & Gilley, S. (Eds.) A literary difficulty in explaining Ireland: Tom Moore and Captain Rock, 1824 
The Irish in Britain: 1815-1939, Pinter, 1989, 239-74 

Which was given that daft title by our esteemed editors. People keep asking me what that title means - I have no idea what it means. 

The point of places like the Picton Reading Room or the Bodleian Library is that any thought, any thought, can be followed into the research record. 

Do note that the two chapters from The Irish World Wide, which are mentioned in my Mercier piece, are available on that free MediaFire.

That is, Barry Coldrey on the Christian Brothers, and my own chapter, 
'The Irish joke'... 
O'Sullivan, P. 
O'Sullivan, P. (Ed.) The Irish joke 
The Creative Migrant, Leicester University Press, 1994, 3, 57-82

Patrick O'Sullivan 

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