A late addition to the programme to replace the cancelled John Banville appearance we welcome Dr Dennis Duncan to the Society to discuss Raymond Queneau’s 1947 short novel On est toujours trop bon avec les femmes
(We Always Treat Women Too Well ) set during the Easter Rising in 1916. The novel was first published as a purported work of pulp fiction by one Sally Mara, but Queneau’s work is a wonderful example of his sly, provocative genius. Queneau was a great admirer of Joyce and kept a notebook to document his reading of Ulysses. Duncan describes Queneau’s erotic and playful twists on history and Joyce’s work thus: ‘The protagonists are a band of rebels who occupy a post office in Dublin, not the GPO, but another one, round the corner on Eden Street. In taking over the building, the rebels either expel or kill all of the post office staff working there ± the clerks, tellers, managers and guards ± with the exception of one woman, one Gertrude Girdle, otherwise known as Gertie, who was in the loo when it happened. The rebels discover Gertie, and during the course of a somewhat existential interrogation, she finds her faith in the infallibility of George V irremediably shaken and sets about undermining the rebels, sowing confusion and dissent among them by systematically seducing them.’
In addition to this enjoyable and curious look at the events of 1916 as we approach its centenary we have put together a rattlebag of music, essays, poetry and film drawn from the talent of the Society:
My dearest, forgive me asking you such a question, but these rebels, did they – how shall I put it – did they behave correctly towards you? No, said Gertie. They tried to lift up my beautiful white dress to look at my ankles.Raymond Queneau - We Always Treat Women Too Well
Donal Cox (Fifth Province) – poetry and performance
Dr Tony Murray – Portrayals of the Post-War Irish Navvy in London
Nora Connolly – poems
Shevaun Wilder – Song of Wandering Aengus film
Eddie Linden – poems
We will have an opportunity for some questions after the presentations by Dr Duncan and Dr Murray.
Dr Dennis Duncan
His books include Theory of the Great Game: Writings from Le Grand Jeu, which appeared with Atlas Press in 2015, while an edited collection, Tom McCarthy: Critical Essays, is in press with Gylphi. He is currently working on a monograph about the early years of the Parisian literary coterie, the Oulipo and his current research project concerns the history of the book index. He is also interested in literary translation, and in the European avant-garde of the twentieth century, in particular the Oulipo and the Collège de ’Pataphysique.