KAVANAGH, Patrick: The Green Fool
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London: Joseph, 1938. pp. 350. First edition. Original black cloth, titled in gilt (variant binding?). A very good copy. Exceedingly rare.
Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) farmer, shoemaker, poet and novelist was born at Iniskeen, County Monaghan and educated locally. His first book ‘Ploughman & Other Poems’ was published in 1936. Today he is recognised as a major Irish poet with universal appeal and is the subject of numerous studies.
Shortly after the publication of ‘The Green Fool’ in 1938, Oliver St John Gogarty brought and won a libel action against the publisher, Michael Joseph. Gogarty was still smarting from a libel action which he had lost the previous year (in a case in which Samuel Beckett had given evidence for one of the plaintiffs). The passage to which Gogarty took exception seems today innocuous enough. Kavanagh, on his first visit to Dublin, called on various literary figures, and he described his reception at Gogarty’s house as follows - “I mistook Gogarty’s white-robed maid for his wife - or mistress. I expected every poet to have a spare wife”. The book was withdrawn and Gogarty was awarded damages of £100.
Kavanagh went into several bookshops in Dublin in October 1938 where he demanded that the proprietor put the book in the window or there would be repercussions. Kavanagh visited Fred Hanna’s bookshop on Nassau declaring his name was “Kavanagh and I’m an Irish Poet.” He threatened to “wreck the joint” if his book wasn’t put in the window. Hanna obliged fearing a scene, he then went into Hodges Figgis and began to throw books around the shop in a rage that his book was not in the window. When approached by a member of staff, Kavanagh responded: “Be careful, I will break every bloody bookshop in the city up.” The rest of the book stores including Browne & Nolan and the Grafton Bookshop refused to stock his book and Kavanagh complained that he was living in a “Fascist State.”
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