J.P. Don­leavy, 91, ex­pa­tri­ate amer­i­can who au­thored ‘the Gin­ger Man’

The Republican Herald - - OBITUARIES - by anita Gates

J.P. Don­leavy, the ex­pa­tri­ate Amer­i­can au­thor whose 1955 novel “The Gin­ger Man” shook up the lit­er­ary world with its com­bi­na­tion of sex­ual frank­ness and out­ra­geous hu­mor, died on Mon­day at a hos­pi­tal near his home in Mullingar, County West­meath, Ire­land. He was 91.

His sis­ter, Mary Rita Don­leavy, said the cause was a stroke.

J.P. Don­leavy had con­sid­er­able trou­ble find­ing a pub­lisher for “The Gin­ger Man,” his bawdily ad­ven­tur­ous story of 1940s univer­sity life in Dublin, which he de­scribed to The New York Times in 2000 as “cel­e­bra­tory, bois­ter­ous and res­o­lutely care­less may­hem.”

The play­wright Bren­dan Be­han, a friend, sug­gested that Don­leavy send the man­u­script to Olympia Press in Paris. This worked out well, in that Olympia ac­cepted the book, and not well, in that it was pub­lished as part of the Trav­eler’s Com­pan­ion se­ries, which was known for erot­ica.

“That was ba­si­cally the end of my ca­reer,” Don­leavy told The Times. “I was ‘a dirty book writer’ out of Paris.” In fact, he went on to write many other suc­cess­ful nov­els.

“The Gin­ger Man” — whose bo­hemian Amer­i­can-in-ire­land an­ti­hero, Se­bas­tian Danger­field, has been de­scribed as im­pul­sive, de­struc­tive, way­ward, cruel, a clown and a psy­chopath — was banned and burned in Ire­land. When it was pub­lished in the United States in 1958, Chap­ter 10 was omit­ted, along with nu­mer­ous sen­tences here and there.

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