Conor Cruise O'Brien Biography
(1917– ), Observer, The Bell, Maria Cross: Imaginative Patterns in a Group of Modern Catholic Writers
Irish literary critic and political commentator, born in Dublin, where he was educated at Trinity College. After joining the Irish Civil Service in 1942, he held numerous senior posts and became a special representative of the United Nations in 1961. From 1969 to 1977 he was a member of the Dail Eirann, becoming Minister for Posts in 1973, and was subsequently a member of the Senate. He has also held various university appointments and was Editor-in-Chief of the Observer from 1979 to 1981. Having achieved notice as a critic for his work with The Bell, his first collection of essays, Maria Cross: Imaginative Patterns in a Group of Modern Catholic Writers, appeared under the pseudonym ‘Donat O'Donnell’ in 1952. Later studies include Writers and Politics (1965), Camus (1970), and Edmund Burke (1981). The analysis of sectarianism and nationalism in States of Ireland (1972) initiated the fusion of political, historical, and cultural perspectives that is sustained in Herod: Reflections on Political Violence (1978), Religion and Politics (1984), Passion and Cunning (1988), God Land: Reflections on Religion and Nationalism (1988), and Ancestral Voices (1994). To Katanga and Back (1962), The United Nations: Sacred Drama (1968), and The Siege: the Saga of Israel and Zionism (1986) are among his writings on international politics. O'Brien's many other publications include The Great Melody (1993), his acclaimed biography of Burke.
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