Who is the single least known great writer of the Western Canon?
And who was this gentleman I never heard of before?
The single least known great writer of the Western Canon.
Upon what authority do you make this extraordinary assertion?
Upon the unimpeachable authority of his great novel, At Swim-Two-Birds. And the equally impeachable authority of his great fantasy The Third Policeman. And the eminently peachable authority of everything else he ever wrote.
Under what name did he write?
Why, then, have I never heard of him?
He destroyed himself through a combination of drink, wasting his wit in pub conversation, wasting his writing time on newspaper columns that kept him from starving, putting a novel in a drawer after a single publisher rejected it, publishing under pseudonyms, writing a novel in Irish despite the readersip for such a book being unprofitably small... In short, he was Irish. God help him, he was Irish. Also a humorist, which is almost as bad.
What does it make me if I've I've never read the sot?
Blessed of God, for you have his works before you ready to be discovered.
But if I don't bother to read them?
A total idiot.
Oh, all right. I have somewhere in the house a copy of The Best of Myles, a collection of O'Nolan's pseudonymous weekly columns written as by "Myles na gCopaleen." They are mad whimsical, the work of a man who was a master of the language, and the reason I don't know where the book is is that I hid it. Otherwise, I'd keep reading it over and over and never get anything done.
By chance I recently ran across a blog that reposted one of the great man's columns, the "Catechism of Cliche." And it prompted the foregoing orgy of admiation.
You can read the catechism here.