by ehistoryadmin on August 6, 2016

Leinster Leader 22 October 1977


Aidan Higgins, whose most recent novel, “Scenes from a Receding Past”, has been published was born on 3rd March, 1927, at Celbridge, Co. Kildare, his father having come from Longford and his mother (nee Orr) from Athlone.  He was educated at Killashee Preparatory School near Naas, Co. Kildare and at Clongowes Wood College.

Having worked in London, he toured with a marionette company in Yugoslavia, Germany, Holland, South Africa and Rhodesia.  He later spent two years in Johannesburgh.  He is married to South African actress Jill Anders and has three sons.

His first published work was “Felo de Se”, a collection of short stories published in 1960 while Higgins was living in Spain.  One of these – “Asylum” – has recently been bought by BBC television.

His first novel “Langrishe, Go Down” was published in 1966 and was hailed as “clearly the best Irish novel by an Irish writer since ‘A Swim Two-Birds’ and the novels of Beckett”.  “Langrishe, Go Down” was a Book Society Alternative Choice and was followed in 1970 by “Images of Africa”, a diary of his time in South Africa (1958-60).

Aidan Higgin’s second novel “Balcony of Europe” was published in 1972.  This novel, which is set in Ireland and Spain, was written in 1970 while he was living in Nerja in Southern Spain.  “Balcony of Europe” was runner-up for the Booker Prize.

All Aidan Higgins’ works to date have been translated into many languages – “Langrishe, Go Down” into no less than eleven.  In addition to his published works, Aidan Higgins has also written extensively for radio.

He has been the recipient of many literary awards including five British Arts Council Awards, D.A.A.D. the German Academic Scholarships the Irish Academy of Letters Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and, most recently, the American Irish Foundation Literary Award 1977.  He was also runner-up for both the Booker Prize and the Guardian Prize.

Aidan Higgins’ most recent novel (now published) “Scenes from a Receding Past” was written while he was living in the mountains of Andalusia and completed in December of last year.

“Scenes from a Receding Past” deals with the first twenty of so years in the life of Dan Ruttle, hero of “Balcony of Europe”, and could in many ways be considered at least semi-autobiographical.  Set in Sligo instead of Higgins’ native Celbridge, the schools referred to (Killashee and Clongowes) were those attended by Higgins’ and Ruttle’s parents in many ways resemble Higgins’ own.

“Scenes from a Receding Past” is not only an extension of a technique and descriptive style that has excited the admiration of discerning readers in many languages, but an attempt to rediscover periods of the past as they were at the time, not so much remembered as seen by contemporary eyes.  The main characters are known to us from “Balcony of Europe”, one of the most powerful books about sexual jealousy of the post-war period.  This new novel interleaves with “Balcony”, coming in time before and just after the first part of that book.


Re-typed by Jennifer O’Connor

Previous post:

Next post: