Monday, January 28, 2008

The bell tolls

Cancer came and claimed someone that I might have met, had I started circulating a little sooner. Padraic "Paddy" McGuinness, a well-known Australian journalist, died from cancer. He was the editor of Quadrant, which is approximately the equivalent of the National Review, though of course the correspondence is inexact. The US and Australia don't have exact counterparts and certainly McGuiness was pretty much one of a kind. "Always dressed in black faux-clerical garb, schooner in hand and holding court in his many favourite drinking holes across Sydney, McGuinness prided himself on pricking intellectual pretension wherever he found it. His exposure of cant and hypocrisy earned him friends from all sides of the political divide. Long-term friend and columnist Jane Fraser said he was a proud man who had intensely disliked showing his vulnerability in his final months. "He refused to discuss his illness with those close to him and would tell us: 'Mind your own bloody business - and don't send any bloody priests'," Fraser said.

I never met him, probably because his condition took him out circulation just as it was just possible that I might have. But one of my acquaintances knew him and writes privately:

Paddy was one of a kind. I last saw him ...  just before Christmas and I remember thinking that he looked very unwell. I'll always be grateful for his efforts as editor of Quadrant. The Australian today devoted a full page to Paddy, which shows the regard in which he was held. The page included a photograph of Paddy with John and Janette Howard at the dinner in 2006 to celebrate Quadrant's 50th anniversary. Here's the orbituary by Mark Juddery. The Sydney Morning Herald also carried a friendly news report and a piece by Paul Sheehan (a regular at Quadrant dinners) entitled Thinker, sceptic, commentator, cultural warrior. Here's an earlier tribute by Peter Coleman on his retirement as Quadrant's editor. I regret that you never had a chance to talk to him at any length. He had lots of ideas to discuss and good stories to tell. **** emailed that his death was tragic, a great voice stilled before its time.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.


Blogger mds said...


I'm not familiar with the man, but what I've read here reminds me of another great Australian, David Stove. Stove died of cancer a dozen or so years ago. He also loved to burst intellectual fads. I wonder if the two men knew each other; their styles sure seem to compliment each other.

1/28/2008 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Manny C said...


If they didn't know each other personally, they would only have one degree of separation.

1/28/2008 11:45:00 PM  

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