Finley Peter Dunne and Mr. Dooley: The Chicago Years

University Press of Kentucky
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Finley Peter Dunne, American journalist and humorist, is justly famous for his creation of Mr. Dooley, the Chicago Irish barkeep whose weekly commentary on national politics, war, and human nature kept Americans chuckling over their newspapers for nearly two decades at the beginning of this century. Largely forgotten in the files of Chicago newspapers, however, are over 300 Mr. Dooley columns written in the 1890s before national syndication made his name a household word. Charles Fanning offers here the first critical examination of these early Dooley pieces, which, far better than the later ones, reveal the depth and development of the character and his creator.

Dunne created in Mr. Dooley a vehicle for expressing his criticism of Chicago's corruption despite the conservatism of most of his publishers. Dishonest officials who could not be safely attacked in plain English could be roasted with impunity in the "pure Roscommon brogue" of a fictional comic Irishman. In addition, Dunne painted, through the observations of his comic persona, a vivid and often poignant portrait of the daily life of Chicago's working-class Irish community and the impact of assimilation into American life. He also offered cogent views of American urban political life, already dominated by the Irish as firmly in Chicago as in other large American cities, and of the tragicomic phenomenon of Irish nationalism.

Mr. Fanning's penetrating examination of these early Dooley pieces clearly establishes Dunne as far more than a mere humorist. Behind Mr. Dooley's marvelously comic pose and ironic tone lies a wealth of material germane to the social and literary history of turn-of-the century America.

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About the author

Charles Fanning is emeritus professor of history and English at Southern Illinois University Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University Press of Kentucky
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Published on
Jan 13, 2015
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Pages
302
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ISBN
9780813162614
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / State & Local / Midwest (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI)
Language Arts & Disciplines / Journalism
Social Science / Popular Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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As the title indicates, this memoir is an act of map making, of plotting out overlapping territories -- topographical, temporal, and psychological. Centered on family life in a Massachusetts town from the 1920s to the 1960s, the author's investigation extends outward to include the Boston area from colonial times to the recent past, encounters with Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and with Harvard College, the American Civil War, and Ireland and Germany in the nineteenth century.Charles Fanning re-creates the landscape of childhood and adolescence in a place and time both ordinary and rich with possibility. An expert on Irish immigration, he was born and raised in Norwood, Massachusetts, twelve miles outside of Boston, where Yankee and Irish cultures bumped against each other. The narrative traces his personal growth, shaped by family, school, baseball, radio drama, and art. He was the first in his family to attend college, and the book ends with his undergraduate experience at Harvard, class of 1964.Along with this coming-of-age story, Mapping Norwood features forays back in time, including chapters on each of Fanning's parents and historical excavations and meditations on three ancestors. Guided by his own experience as a scholar, the pressure of these chapters is epistemological -- the thrill of the hunt toward knowing. Fanning's great-grandfather, John Fanning, disappeared from the family in the late 1880s, and a chapter chronicles the discovery of "Walking John's" fifty years of hidden later life in East St. Louis, Illinois, where he died alone in 1946. Fanning's great-great-grandfather, Winslow Radcliffe, was a veteran of the 35th Massachusetts Infantry in the Civil War, and the author traces this regiment through the horrors of Antietam and Fredericksburg, by means of diaries and letters by four men from Winslow's company. The evidence gleaned helps explain Winslow's suicide after the war. An Irish immigrant ancestor, Phillip Fanning, came to Boston from County Monaghan just after the Great Famine of the late 1840s. Relying on historical research, Fanning imagines vividly the lives led by Phillip's family and thousands like them in the wake of Ireland's nineteenth-century catastrophe.
As the title indicates, this memoir is an act of map making, of plotting out overlapping territories -- topographical, temporal, and psychological. Centered on family life in a Massachusetts town from the 1920s to the 1960s, the author's investigation extends outward to include the Boston area from colonial times to the recent past, encounters with Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and with Harvard College, the American Civil War, and Ireland and Germany in the nineteenth century.Charles Fanning re-creates the landscape of childhood and adolescence in a place and time both ordinary and rich with possibility. An expert on Irish immigration, he was born and raised in Norwood, Massachusetts, twelve miles outside of Boston, where Yankee and Irish cultures bumped against each other. The narrative traces his personal growth, shaped by family, school, baseball, radio drama, and art. He was the first in his family to attend college, and the book ends with his undergraduate experience at Harvard, class of 1964.Along with this coming-of-age story, Mapping Norwood features forays back in time, including chapters on each of Fanning's parents and historical excavations and meditations on three ancestors. Guided by his own experience as a scholar, the pressure of these chapters is epistemological -- the thrill of the hunt toward knowing. Fanning's great-grandfather, John Fanning, disappeared from the family in the late 1880s, and a chapter chronicles the discovery of "Walking John's" fifty years of hidden later life in East St. Louis, Illinois, where he died alone in 1946. Fanning's great-great-grandfather, Winslow Radcliffe, was a veteran of the 35th Massachusetts Infantry in the Civil War, and the author traces this regiment through the horrors of Antietam and Fredericksburg, by means of diaries and letters by four men from Winslow's company. The evidence gleaned helps explain Winslow's suicide after the war. An Irish immigrant ancestor, Phillip Fanning, came to Boston from County Monaghan just after the Great Famine of the late 1840s. Relying on historical research, Fanning imagines vividly the lives led by Phillip's family and thousands like them in the wake of Ireland's nineteenth-century catastrophe.
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