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I may of course be mistaken but it has long been my conviction that the Man-Booker Prize-winning author John Banville is a twenty-four carat turd.

It started with a stupidly boastful  piece by him in THE IRISH TIMES one Good Friday. It concerned a failed attempt by the would-be hero to upset fellow-citizens on their way to Good Friday services in his native Wexford. Together with some other posers the youthful  Banville organised a meat-eating demonstration as the faithful went about their devotions.

Heaven knows most of us got up to all sorts of silliness in our youth before the ubiquity of cameras destroyed all hopes of privacy. For my own part I’m glad there were no cameras.But Banville, and the IRISH TIMES, God help them, thought they were being interesting, amusing or brave in rehashing his stupid stunt. Now if Banville had paraded down the Shankill Road wearing a Pioneer Pin, a Fainne and an Easter Lily, singing the Bold Fenian Men, I might think him a simple poor gobshite,  but a very brave one, and would pray for the repose of his soul.

Besides revealing himself as an adolescent who never grew up, Banville, born 1945, presumed to pass judgement on the Ireland, spared, by de Valera’s statesmanship, from the mass slaughter of the Second World.  As Banville perceived it, Ireland was

“a demilitarised totalitarian state in which the lives of citizens were to be controlled not by a system of coercive force and secret policing,but by a kind of applied spiritual paralysis maintained by an unofficial federation between the Catholic clergy, the Judiciary and the civil service. Essential to this enterprise in social engineering was the policy of intellectual isolationism which de Valera imposed on the country……as far as the de Valeran state is concerned, there are no adults.”

Mr Banville has written a play imagining a meeting in Dublin in the 1940s, during the Second World War, between the poet John Betjeman who was attached to the British Legation in Dublin and the West Cork “Ascendancy” writer Elizabeth Bowen. Betjeman, certainly an intelligent man and probably an intelligence agent, explains to Bowen that de Valera would not allow the British to have an embassy in Dublin.

Here I wonder the source of Banville’s historical intelligence. Although universal adult suffrage had established a sovereign, independent, democratic Irish state with a republican constitution  in 1938, it had remained within the British Commonwealth and had not declared itself a Republic. In common with all the Commonwealth countries, with the sole exception of Great Britain, Ireland had no embassies and no ambassadors, anywhere, nor did Great Britain have embassies or ambassadors in any Commonwealth countries, The Commonwealth countries had High Commissioners in London, and diplomatic missions headed by Ministers in other countries.

I believe that Australia would not accept the accreditation of an Irish Ambassador until about 1950, for I read about it in the papers at the time. I was aged 8 or 9 and I’m tempted to think I was nearer to adulthood than Mr Banville has yet got.

I heard only a snippet of the play on the car radio and when I said what I thought of its author my wife turned it off. So please hear me loud and clear when I repeat that I consider John Banville a twenty-four carat turd.




22 Responses to JOHN BANVILLE: A TWENTY-FOUR CARAT TURD? by Donal Kennedy

  1. Sherdy March 22, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    ‘A 24-carat turd’ – methinks your generosity of spirit overfloweth!

  2. Joe Nolan March 22, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

    I understand that John Banville devised the acronym MOPE or “most oppressed people ever” as a caustic reference to the Irish people, or more specifically, Irish people of the non-revisionist persuasion. For that alone, he is a worthy recipient of such a glowing description.

  3. MT March 22, 2016 at 11:28 pm #

    It’s interesting thst no blogger on this site has blogged about the murder of Adrian Ismay.

    • Jude Collins March 23, 2016 at 7:04 am #

      Then why don’t you, MT?

      • MT March 23, 2016 at 7:23 am #

        “Then why don’t you, MT?”

        I don’t blog.

        • Jude Collins March 23, 2016 at 8:24 am #

          Ah. That’d be a good reason, then.

          • MT March 23, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

            Whereas you, being a blogger, don’t have such a reason.

            Why did you see fit not to blog about this murder?

  4. giordanobruno March 23, 2016 at 12:17 am #

    “And name-calling, of course, is always a sure sign that you’ve lost the argument.”
    Jude Collins
    “I repeat that I consider John Banville a twenty-four carat turd.”
    Donal Kennedy.
    I rest my case.

    • jessica March 23, 2016 at 8:09 am #

      Or simply given up when faced with obstinate intransigence and simply expressing emotion.

      Anyway, it is then up to the listeners to decide who won the argument is it not, both participants will likely still feel they have won.

      But it isn’t always about winning arguments though gio.

      That in itself is a frustrating unionist attitude, all about concessions and conceding points rather than clarity of substance in their argument.

      • giordanobruno March 23, 2016 at 8:47 am #

        Well done for shoehorning unionists in there.
        Your singlemindedness is impressive.

    • Sherdy March 23, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

      Then how do we rate the English king, Richard the Turd?

  5. Donal Kennedy March 23, 2016 at 9:26 am #

    In February 1933 THE IRISH TIMES carried an Editorial warning readers against voting
    Fianna Fail back into Government and the following month welcomed Hitler’s accession
    to power in Germany. THE IRISH TIMES was John Banville’s vehicle for boasting about
    his stupid prank.
    The puritanism which Banville attributes to de Valera’s governments was inherited from its
    Cumann na NGaedhal’s administations and not added to it by Fianna Fail. When Dev’s
    opponents were giving NAZI salutes, supporting Mussolini’s rape of Abyssinia and General
    Franco’s Mutiny, De Valera and Fianna Fail supported and wished to strengthen the League
    of Nations, and supported the rule of law domestically and internationally. After Germany
    denied citizenship to its Jews with the Nurembourg Decrees, Ireland’s Constitution enshrined freedom of religion to everyone, including Jews specifically. The IRISH CONSTITUTION is not a Confessional one. It recorded a statistical fact that most citizens
    were Catholics. And thus kicked into touch ultra-Catholic forces seeking to enshrine
    Catholicism as a state religion like the Church of England.
    Banville appears to know nothing of the puritanism of England and the white commonwealth
    which forced the abdication of King Edward VIII , or of the United States where the sale of
    alcoholic drinks was prohibited, where, in at least one State legal executions by hangings were in public, and lynching of black men endemic in others.
    In fact like “MT”, Banville presents as an empty- headed, empty-scrotumed, wilfully ignorant
    Begrudger. Which is why he richly deserved to be catalogued as a 24 Carat Turd.

    • giordanobruno March 24, 2016 at 9:52 am #

      I missed his argument for calling MT “an empty- headed, empty-scrotumed, wilfully ignorant

      • Jude Collins March 24, 2016 at 10:17 am #

        You know the point I’m making: he piled on insult, true, but he did outline his reasons for said insults. I see n important distinction.

        • jessica March 24, 2016 at 10:50 am #

          “You know the point I’m making: he piled on insult, true, but he did outline his reasons for said insults. I see n important distinction.”

          He or she is frustrating.

        • giordanobruno March 24, 2016 at 11:48 am #

          As always it is your call.
          Donal has a habit of throwing insults in; what was it he called the late A.T.Q. Stewart again? Brown nosed sycophant I think.
          It weakens whatever argument he is trying to make,as well as being plain rude. Furthermore it encourages responses in the same vein.
          Which is my reasoning for considering him a 24 carat turd.

          • Jude Collins March 24, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

            Well that’s at least logical – you present a case for describing a person as … pick your insult. I’m not too squeamish about fairly bawdy language but I don’t like even polite name-calling that comes with no supporting case.

  6. giordanobruno March 23, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

    Indeed you are also a turd!
    As is Jude
    Paddy a definite turd. MT we are agreed is a turd.
    Neill, may he rest in peace was always a bit of a turd
    jessica, wolfie, Argenta, turds one and all.
    This is fun!

    • Jude Collins March 24, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      I think you’ll find that Donal provided some argument for his turd-conclusion. You haven’t. So don’t name-call.

    • Argenta March 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm #

      Thanks for inclusion in the composite insult!As you know yourself,there seems to be a greater tolerance on this blogspot for the sycophants as opposed to those who challenge the thinking in the respective blogs.

      • Jude Collins March 25, 2016 at 9:14 am #

        Greater tolerance by who? If you mean me, you’re wrong.I post everything that isn’t unaccompanied abuse or potentially libellous.

      • giordanobruno March 25, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

        I am an equal opportunities insulter you old turd!