Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ginger Man” as Want to Read:
The Ginger Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Ginger Man

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  8,271 Ratings  ·  450 Reviews
First published in Paris in 1955 the book follows the often racy misadventures of a young American, Sebastian Dangerfield,who is studying law at Trinity College.On publication it was banned in America and Ireland for obscenity.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 28th 1968 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1955)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ginger Man, please sign up.

Recent Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I'd seen The Ginger Man hanging around various bookshops for years but avoided a direct encounter until recently. That was probably a wise intuition as I'm quite certain that Sebastian Dangerfield, the ginger man of the title, would have driven my younger self to some extreme act such as burying the book in a deep hole after the first twenty pages. But if I had done that, I’d have thrown away a collection of curious artefacts; Donleavy's book is like the archeological site of literary Dublin and ...more
Lynne King
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-p-donleavy, fiction
Review – The Ginger Man – 28 May 2013

“When you get back Kenneth, I’ll walk naked wearing a green bowler to greet you at the boat. With a donkey cart flying green streamers and green shamrocks imported from Czechoslovakia and a band of girl pipers blowing like mad. Did you know that they imported the English sparrow into America to eat horseshit off the streets?”

Who else, but an Irish writer, and a zany one at that, could possibly have written that?

It’s interesting to know, however, that when “Th
Jul 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'd hazard a guess that this is one of Shane McGowan's favourite books. Personally, I found the wife-punching, baby-smothering, lying, stealing gobshite of the title utterly charmless. Reading the reviews, however, he's apparently a delightful comic rapscallion. Perhaps this sort of thing was daring and bawdy back in the uptight 1950s.

If, like me, Dangerfield's sozzled transatlantic blarney leaves you cold, you are left with the world's most unconvincing sex-machine (with the possible exception
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

For all those 1 and 2 star reviewers on here who "hated" the book for its "misogyny" and the "unpleasantness" of Sebastian, I quote the following:

"He sat there elbows on his thighs hands hanging from his wrists.

Dreaming out this sunset. Tacked up on a cross and looking down. A cradle of passive, mystifying sorrow. Flooded in tears. Never be too wise to cry. Or not take these things. Take them. Keep them safely. Out of them comes love.

Miss Frost stepped from the door shyly. Her head a
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed this book -- and I'm a woman. I don't know why so many people seem to be so appalled by the protagonist Sebastian Dangerfield. Sure, I don't personally agree with many of Dangerfield's actions (his often offensive behavior seems to be the sole reason as to why some people slam The Ginger Man).

I don't read literature to find examples of characters who never commit a sin, however. I read selective fiction, for the most part, to be engaged in an entertaining tale. Donleavy more tha
Before starting this novel, it would be helpful to review two definitions:
1. Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

2. Picaresque: of or relating to an episodic style of fiction dealing with the adventures of a rough and dishonest but appealing hero.

I started reading The Ginger Man without reviewing those principles and nearly quit in disgust. Eve
Ian "Marvin" Graye


"O scathful harm, condition of poverte!
With thirst, with cold, with hunger so confounded,
To asken helpe thee shameth in thin herte,
If thou non ask, so sore art thou ywounded
That veray nede unwrappeth al thy wound hid."

Down and Out in Paris and Dublin

Manning Clark talked about sex, religion and alcohol as the three great comforters. In “The Ginger Man”, JP Donleavy seems determined to prove that you can get by with at least two: sex and alcohol, if you add the occasional brawl, fist
James Newman
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became aware of this book after recently reading a Hunter S. Thompson biography, wherein it describes how Hunter discovered the book in New York, and did his best to imitate Dangerfield's lifestyle. After reading the Ginger Man it became apparent that Hunter had at last found a hard act to follow in terms of womanising, alcohol abuse and empty promises.

Apparently the Ginger Man was turned down by something like 40 publishers before finding it's way to the mainly pornographic publishers Olympi
Apr 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
How important is it for the reader to like the central protagonist of a novel? Obviously if one is going to spend hundreds of pages in – or around – a character’s head, then it is preferable to empathise with him or her. However there are some books, Dostoyevsky’s ‘Notes From Underground’ say, where clearly we are not supposed to like the central character and yet the passion of the prose is such that we can’t help but admire the work anyway.

These thoughts were high in my mind as I read ‘The Gin
David Lentz
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
JPD launched a storied literary career with a masterpiece in The Ginger Man. Sebastian, which means "venerable," is a man perpetually on the brink of utter madness brought largely upon himself. He is a Trinity College Dublin man whose condition is given to "staving off starvation" and whose only option when things always get worse is to "cheer-up or die." When you consider that JPD was first a painter, it's understandable that his writing style is pointillistic. The syntax like Dangerfield is no ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A great big stream of consciousness slice of life book about the boozing, lazy, nasty, cruel, selfish Sebastian Dangerfield, an American in Dublin who is supposed to be studying law at Trinity but instead drinks all day, chases women and exchanges abuse with his wife.

To be sure, Sebastian is an unpleasant character, but that doesn’t bother me. I was simply bored by the events of the novel. I didn’t find it, as all the blurbs promised, an exuberant, witty, wildly comic escapade. Donleavy’s writin
Mar 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A truly dreadful book. I quit reading on page 29 of 347, and here’s why:

From the blurb from the back cover:

“…wildly funny, picaresque classic novel of the misdaventures of Sebastian Dangerfield, a young American ne’re-do-well….”

And this, from the fateful page 29:

“He drove his fist into Marion’s face [his wife]. She fell backward against the cupboard… In tattered underwear he stood at the nursery door. He kicked his foot through and tore off the lock to open it. Took the child’s pillow from und
Sometimes I am absolutely baffled as to why certain books are on the Modern Library Top 100 book list. This is certainly one of those. Sebastian Dangerfield is an American studying law at Trinity College in Dublin just after WWII, married and with a daughter, and with a serious drinking problem and a really, really bad attitude. He is a 100% unredeemable character, beating and humiliating his wife and trying to smother his daughter in one of his rages. He very occasionally studies or goes to his ...more
Mick Stepp
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scoundrels, re-reads
I have to be careful when I talk about this book. Especially with women. Most women despise The Ginger Man. Actually, what they despise is the Sebastian Dangerfield character for he is a drunken, misogynistic, lecherous scoundrel, the very kind of man they are terrified that their daughters might someday meet. The more open minded among them, however, appreciate the quality of Donleavy's rendering, the richness and inventiveness of the language and the out and out hilarity of the story.

I love wo
Joe Mossa

this is # 99 on my list of 100. i received the greatest joy when i read the last page and didn t have to spend any more time with ,sabastian. is this a great novel cause donleavy describes in great detail one of the worst characters in literature ? he is cruel to women and yet they keep coming back to him. he doesn t work, barely studies his law books, has no redeeming qualities. he reminds me of the college drunks who wasted their education in college. there are so many bad books on this list
Mar 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I wonder if neuroscientists will ever be able to analyse tears that contain the byproducts of great happiness and great sadness at the same time. And what is such an intense feeling called? Even to think of this book brings a tear to my eye, and reading it I cry buckets. This horrible, loveable, picaresque hero and antihero, this moonchild of Irish imagination. Wow
Aug 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't help but think of the fine British comedy Withnail And I while reading this. Much like the dialogue in that film, Donleavy's witty, loosely constructed vignettes might be a bit disorienting at first bit they grow on you and you find yourself chuckling more and more especially in the more bizarre stream of consciousness moments (kangaroo costumes, public transportation "wardrobe malfunctions"). The other point of reference for me was Tropic Of Cancer as the narrator is also an "anti he ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
#99 on the Modern Library Board's List. Published in 1955. If there's a reason people don't succeed in working through the Modern Library backwards, it's probably this. "The Ginger Man" is a novel for no one, except perhaps sociopathic poser intellectuals who find bawdy antipathy entertaining.

I'll start with Donleavy's prose style, the only redeeming thing about the novel. "The Ginger Man" swerves wildly between the first and third person, an interior monologue one moment and a systematic sketch
Lukáš Palán
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, irish, top-2017
Zrzoun je po dlouhý době knížka, kterou bych si sám sobě doporučil, kdybych se neznal a potkal se v knihovně a chtěl sám sebe sbalit.

Kniha je o ubožákovi Dangerfieldovi, kterej přijede z Emeriky do Irska kotit irský katoličky a když odmítnou kotit, tak jim pořádně nandá facany, ať už je střízlivej nebo opilej. Špuntovat nudlárnu a nasávat alkoholy, to je moje. V Zrzounovi to po delší době mělo švih a grády, styl je ujetej a svižnej a celkově není divu, že to vyšlo v Olympii, páč je to jedna a t
Alli Treman
Feb 28, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“She went down the steps. Paused, turned, smiled. Key. Green door. Few seconds. A light goes on. Shadow moves across the window. Hers. What sweet stuff, sweeter than all the roses. Come down God and settle in my heart on this triangular Friday.”
While reading Ginger Man I was literally mesmerised by its magically artistic language – it has never occurred to me that the words could be so kinematic. And also it was my first black humour trip. And it was the book that made me fall in love with postm
Jovi Ene
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dacă vreți să vă aduceți aminte de Henry Chinaski, dar unul profund irlandez, calea cea mai sigură, care nu trece prin recitirea lui Bukowski, este în această carte.
Sebastian Dangerfield (ah, ce nume!) este un irlandez pasionat de băutură și de futaiuri ieftine, lefter, deși în sinea lui se consideră un boem (în sensul bun al cuvântului) ce studiază dreptul la Trinity în Dublin. Cam ăsta e romanul, de altfel, mai nimic nu se întâmplă, ci este o pendulare între baruri și femei, între Dublin și Lo
May 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've been trying to formulate a review for this for a couple of days. I read it because it is on the Modern Library Top 100 Novels list - otherwise I would have put it down after the infamous page 29: "He drove his fist into Marion’s face [his wife]. She fell backward against the cupboard… In tattered underwear he stood at the nursery door. He kicked his foot through and tore off the lock to open it. Took the child’s pillow from under its head and pressed it hard on the screaming mouth." (please ...more
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
کتابی خوب با ترجمهای بد. ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ایرلند
طرح اندامت را در آن ژاکت خاکستری میبینم.وای که این تکه نان گرم چه بویی دارد.خدایا،گمانم ما دونفر تصادفا سر راه هم قرار گرفتیم.دلم یک تکه نان بزرگ میخواست.آنقدر بزرگ که میشد بروم داخلش.و جای امنی باید باشد،داخل یک قرص نان.دوشیزه فراست،کاش میشد مرا داخل یک قرص نان بزرگ بگذاری.کالبد نحیفم را که از ترس مردم به لرزه افتاده افتاده،همچون آوارگان.بی صدا تا کنی و داخل یک قرص نان غول پیکر بگذاری.مراقب باش بدنم را همراه نان توی اجاق نسوزانی.فقط قهوه ای و کمی برشته ام کن.بگذار تا مثل کیک پف کنم و صبح که شد ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
پشت کتاب ذکر شده« شخصیت دنجرفیلد در مرد زنجبیلی تا حدود زیادی یاغی گری ها، قضاوت ها، بی قیدی ها و بذله گولی های تلخ و تاریک شخصیت هولدن کالفیلد در ناطور دشت سلینجر را در زهن تداعی میکند
باید بگم به هیچ وجه اینطور نیست و شخصیت دنجرفیلد نه تنها اصلا جذابیت کالفیلد را ندارد بلکه دوست داشتنی هم نیست و بی شعور کاملا ل غیر جذابی است. حجم بالای کتاب با توجه به شخصیت اول کاملا خسته کننده است و کاملا قابلیت این را دارد که آدم کتاب را به نصفه نرسیده رها کند و من هم بخاطر تعداد زیاد کتابهای نیمه رها شده و ق
Definitely.....not my kind of book.
How did this get on Modern Library's list top 100 novels?
Abandon after 100 pages...I tried, I really did.
Loring Wirbel
Dublin certainly went crazy in the summer of 2015 celebrating the 60th anniversary of Donleavy's first book. Special forums were held at Trinity College, mere blocks away from Sebastian Dangerfield's favorite drinking establishments. And Johnny Depp, who has threatened for a decade to produce a film version of The Ginger Man starring himself, was recruited to write a brief but to-the-point foreword to this beautiful Lilliput memorial hardback edition.

So how does Donleavy's inaugural work hold up

The long and tortured history of J P Donleavy's first novel parallels the trials and tribulations of Sebastian Dangerfield, anti-hero and bad boy, aka the Ginger Man. Because of sexual content, Donleavy had a heck of a time getting published and until 1965, all versions were expurgated (obscene or objectionable passages deleted.) It is considered a classic as well as Donleavy's best work.

As the story opens, Dangerfield is unhappily married to a woman whom he had hoped would bring him money but i
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
The Ginger Man J. P. Donleavey (1955) #99

July 9, 2013

Ok, I know; I usually go on and on about despicable protagonists in books on this list (well, except for Humbert Humbert), but I kind of liked Sebastian Dangerfield, and I really liked this book.
There is a lot about this book that compares to Joyce. This book sort of reads like a poor man’s Ulysses, and is chock full of grammatical and literary inconsistencies, the likes of which would give a high school English teacher an aneurysm. Sometime
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Studs Lonigan
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4-6)
  • The Old Wives' Tale
  • Zuleika Dobson
  • The Wapshot Chronicle
  • A High Wind in Jamaica
  • Loving
  • Tobacco Road (Brown Thrasher Books)
  • The Alexandria Quartet  (The Alexandria Quartet #1-4)
  • Parade's End
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy, #2)
  • USA: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money
  • Point Counter Point
  • The Golden Bowl
  • The Way of All Flesh
  • Henderson the Rain King
  • The Death of the Heart
  • Scoop
James Patrick Donleavy was an Irish American author, born to Irish immigrants. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II after which he moved to Ireland. In 1946 he began studies at Trinity College, Dublin, but left before taking a degree. He was first published in the Dublin literary periodical, Envoy.

See also
More about J.P. Donleavy...

Share This Book

“Dear Mr Skully,

I have caught my neck in a mangle and will be indisposed for eternity.

Yours in death
“Take deeds
Play music
More quotes…