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Finton O'Toole
Fintan O'Toole

"Irish Culture and Art"

Opening Address for University at Albany's Irish Semester

NYS Writers Institute, February 4, 1999
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center




Fintan O'Toole
, one of Ireland's most respected cultural critics, will present a lecture on "Irish Culture and Art." O'Toole was elected Irish Journalist of the Year in 1993. His 1997 biography, Traitor's Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, recounts the 18th century playwrights romantic entanglements, duels, political career, and battles with debt collectors. Kirkus Reviews called it, "An astutely political and compelling chronicled life of the man the Prince of Wales described as 'the most extraordinary creature alive.'"


O'Toole's 1997 book, The Ex-Isle of Ireland: Images of a Global Ireland, examined Ireland's role in a new multinational culture. Critic Roy Foster, writing in The New Statements, named it one of his personal favorites of 1997 and called it, "a tour d'horizon of the post-modern island." His 1998 collection of essays, The Lie of the Land: Irish Identities, examines ways in which Ireland has redefined itself politically and culturally at the end of the 20th century. Ambrose Clancy, writing in The Nation said, "[O'Toole] writes with skill and sanity about his country, a place evolving at head-spinning speed. . .long on analysis and short on judgments."

Born in Dublin in 1958, O'Toole was appointed drama critic at the New York Daily News in 1997, and currently resides in New York City.

"A dazzling biography of the extraordinary man who was both the greatest dramatist of his time and one of its most significant politicians and oratores. . .It is impossible not to love Sheridan, and impossible not to rejoice in the way O'Toole honours his memory. . .He should be showered with garlands and loaded with prizes." - Tom Paulin, Independent On Sunday

"A perceptive, speculative and subtle account." - A. C. Grayling, Financial Times

"This is more than a biography, it is a history of one aspect of Irish genius, and of its contortions and accommodations. The instability of language and meaning. . .is an important theme. O'Toole's book is worth reading for this alone, so also for its wonderfully vital account of what it was like to go to the theatre in Sheridan's day. O'Toole excels both in the abstract and in the concrete." - Victoria Glendinning, The Daily Telegraph

"A superbly original version of what impelled Sheridan, especially his Irish background and connections." - Colm Toibin, The Times Literary Supplement

"This passionately written book. . .could be read by someone incurious about 18th-century politics or the theatre for the sheer pleasure of O'Toole's prose." - Ian McIntyre, The Times

Cosponsored by the Center for Arts and Humanities

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For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.