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James T. Farrell (James Thomas Farrell) Biography

(1904–79), (James Thomas Farrell), Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy, Young Lonigan

American author, born on the South Side of Chicago, where he lived until he was 27. He was educated at Chicago University, where he wrote the first parts of his famous Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy (1935): comprising Young Lonigan (1932), a stream-of-consciousness narrative which records the youth as a baseball enthusiast and pupil at a Catholic school living in Chicago's seedy South Side; The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (1934), which follows the hero through his moral disintegration as the result of contact with the Chicago underworld; and Judgement Day (1935), which recounts his defeat and death. The chief influences on this work appear to be Proust, Joyce, and Dreiser, but it also shows interest in US social and economic inequalities. After moving to New York in 1931, Farrell remained constant to his theories of literary naturalism; these are discussed in his critical works A Note on Literary Criticism (1936), which defends his own brand of Marxism, The League of Frightened Philistines (1945), Literature and Morality (1947), and Reflections At Fifty (1954). This style is also evident in his later fictional five-volume series dealing with the life of Danny O'Neill, in A World I Never Made (1936), No Star Is Lost (1938), Father and Son (1940), My Days of Anger (1943), and The Face of Time (1953); and in a three-volume series, Bernard Clare (1946) and its sequels The Road Between (1949) and Yet Other Waters (1952), which deals with a gradually disillusioned New York writer and communist in the 1920s. Apart from these cycles, he wrote many other novels, including Gas-House McGinty (1933), Tommy Gallagher's Crusade (1939), Ellen Rogers (1941), This Man and This Woman (1951), and What Time Collects (1964), whilst The Silence of History (1963) began an uncompleted tetralogy featuring Eddie Ryan, a Chicago University student in 1926, who loses his faith in Catholicism. Farrell's novels often reflect the simple social and religious beliefs of hard-working Irish immigrants and how they are undermined in a later generation by the breakdown of the institutions designed to protect them, particularly the home and the Church. The books turn out as an angry but hopeless tirade against the material density and spiritual aridity of contemporary life. His volumes of short stories include Calico Shoes (1934), Guillotine Party (1935), Can All This Grandeur Perish? (1937), $1,000 a Week (1942), To Whom It May Concern (1944), An American Dream Girl (1950), French Girls Are Vicious (1956), and Dangerous Women (1957). His other writings include My Baseball Diary (1957), his perspective on the sport; a book about a visit to Israel, It Has Come To Pass (1958); and his Collected Poems (1965). See Proletarian Literature in the USA.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Englefield Green Surrey to William Faulkner Biography