Sean O' Casey (1880-1964) was a celebrated but reclusive Irish playwright, writer, and individual. If you crossed him, you went on his enemies' list and suffered his wrath in writings and mutterings, whether public or private. In 1958 he banned all productions of his plays in Ireland when the Archbishop of Dublin refused to offer a votive mass at a festival in which works of his and James Joyce were being aired. However, he was also enigmatic, a professed Communist and hater of organized religion and dogma but who seemed centered in a faith in God and (most) people, but especially in life. It was life and family he celebrated in his plays, books and personal life, and though some of his works are tragic in nature, they do not celebrate tragedy, but simply point to the gusto in life.
Brooks Atkinson's Sean O'Casey: From Times Past pulls from Atkinson's numerous reviews of O'Casey with whom he shared a friendship and mutual admiration. With the assist of O'Casey scholar Robert G. Lowery, Atkinson filters these celebrations of life which O'Casey draws with an artist's verve and brush, highlighting in O'Casey's plays, essays and autobiographical works the stings and joys that are part of every one of us.