‘Up The Bare Stairs’ by Sean O’Faolain

Up The Bare Stairs by Sean O’Faolain, 1949

The magic trick:

Using the narrator’s editorial comments to direct the reader’s impressions of the story

The framing device used in this story does a very nice job of twisting the reader’s impression of Sir Francis Nugent. The story he tells of his life speaks for itself. But the additional context provided by the narrator’s reactions and editorial comments give the reader a more complete, more direct view.

And that’s quite a trick on O’Faolain’s part.

The selection:

Then he leaned forward and let down all his reserves. As he began, my heart sank. He was at the favourite theme of every successful man: “How I Began.” But as he went on, I felt mean and rebuked. I doubt if he had ever told anyone, and before he finished I could only guess why he chose to tell me now.

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