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Sean O’Faolain; Writer Was Known as the ‘Irish Chekhov’

Sean O’Faolain, 91, a former Irish Republican Army member whose beautifully crafted short stories won him accolades as the “Irish Chekhov.” O’Faolain wrote more than 20 books, including biographies of leading Irish figures and a series of novels dealing with Irish nationalism. As a young man he was a member of the IRA, which is now fighting a guerrilla campaign to end British rule in northern Ireland. But it was O’Faolain’s collections of short stories, beginning with “Midsummer Night Madness and Other Stories” in 1932, which won him world renown. His stories were hailed by critics as some of the best examples of the genre written in the English language. Most were about characters troubled by their environment and missed opportunities. “We Irish writers went to the French for technique and to the Russians for passion,” he once said. “The great inspiration of our writing came from reading Tolstoy, Gogol and Gorki, because in the lives and books of those men we saw the similarity to life in Ireland.” His other works included “King of the Beggars, a Biography,” “An Irish Journey,” “Newman’s Way” and several volumes of collected short stories in the 1970s and early 1980s. In Dublin on Saturday.


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