Manual Down All the Days

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Tormented yet calm, he is the detached observer of life in the slums of forties and fifties, Dublin. Written with the fearless discipline that Christy Brown had to establish over his own body, Down all the Days displays his lyrical gifts for language and insight to the full. Christy Brown was born in He was one of 23 children born to a Dublin bricklayer.

A victim of cerebral palsy, he could not control his speech or his movement, apart from his left foot.

Christy Brown Displays Mind's Rein Over Body

This enabled him to paint and type this autobiography. He later wrote an autobiographical novel, Down all the Days, which was very successful. Christy Brown died in For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more. By signing up, I confirm that I'm over View all newsletter. Paperback Features Articles, Games and more Penguin Shop Penguin Shop Book bundles.


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Throughout his life, he could not walk, or eat, or drink, or do anything else, without considerable help. His limbs shook constantly; his speech was slurred and limited, hard to understand except by his family. There was something about Christy that no one suspected until he was nearly an adult, though. Somehow, at some time during his childhood, Christy Brown learned to read — possibly assisted by one of his older siblings he was one of 22 children born to the Browns; only 13 lived to maturity.

Down All The Days

And then, at some time after that, the fact that he could control his left foot the only part of his body over which he had voluntary command led him to teach himself to write, on a notebook laying on the floor, using the toes of that foot to hold and manipulate the pencil. There is no single person who fits that description. He is a harsh father to his children, especially the boys, ever ready to administer the belt to their posteriors whenever he feels they need it — which is often.

But touch one of his children, as an outsider, and he is on you like a mountain lion. The contrast between her and some of her female friends is striking, as she seems always in control of herself. The most colorful of those friends is Red Magso Rattigan, recently widowed when the story begins, a mountainous, hard-drinking woman with huge breasts who alternates between weeping copiously over her dead husband, and angrily berating his memory.

I do see the way that oul fella from up the street looks in at you when he passes … Speak of the divil! Oul empty fork! Lil, the eldest, marries a young man named Doyle — in England, where she had gone to find work — and later returns with their first baby.

- Down All the Days by Christy Brown

Later they have twin boys — who both die at nine months old, of gastro-enteritis. Jem James and Tony, the two oldest boys, get their union cards courtesy of their father, to become bricklayers, but then duck out and instead join the Irish Army World War II is in its first year.

Da is furious with the two for letting him down before his mates, and openly ridicules their military pretensions.