Monday 21 May 2018

New collection: Funnyman Brendan Behan's one-liners

Brendan Behan
Brendan Behan
The Brendan Behan Quotation Book

John Spain

This new collection of Brendan Behan quotations is being published to mark the 50th anniversary of the author's death. Behan, of course, was best known for his plays The Quare Fellow and The Hostage, and his autobiography Borstal Boy.

But his fame also was due in no small part to his gift for quotable quotes, especially when he was on a bit of a lash.

His one-liners delighted interviewers and reporters, particularly when he was abroad. He was always good for a headline. The witty irreverence was typical of inner-city Dublin humour, leavened with the love of literature instilled in him by his father, a house painter like himself.

This new collection of quotations chosen by Somerville Press publisher Andrew Russell comes in a pocket-size book, an increasingly popular format after the success of The Little Book of Calm and similar titles. The publisher is hoping it will be an enduring hit among tourists browsing in bookshops here and he could well be right.


The Brendan Behan Quotation Book Compiled by Andrew Russell

Somerville Press, pbk, €6.99

Available with free P&P on or by calling 091 709350

Brendan's 12 best quotes

'I'm a drinker with writing problems'

'Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves'

'I took up writing because it's easier than house painting'

'There's no bad publicity except an obituary'

'People who say manual labour is a good thing have never done any'

'The more famous I have become the more enemies I seem to have'

'Other people have a nationality; the Irish and the Jews have psychosis'

'Whenever I travel anywhere in a plane, it seems to be full of nuns. And they take the vow of poverty'

'I'm a Communist by day and a Catholic as soon as it gets dark'

'I enjoy smoking expensive cigars made in Cuba by Castro. You can feel radical and bourgeois at the same time'

'I regard Ireland in the same way as Sean O'Casey. It's a great country to get a letter from'

'The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs less'

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