Gerry Smyth
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Jesus or Judas?
Francis Stuart’s Black List, Section H (1971)
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Francis Stuart remains a controversial figure within Irish literary history. Although ensconced within the Irish literary establishment of the early twentieth century, at the outbreak of World War II Stuart forsook his ‘natural’ intellectual inheritance and moved to Berlin to take up a teaching post. Once there, he accepted an offer from the Nazi propaganda division to make weekly broadcasts to Ireland on a range of supposedly ‘non-political’ matters. His subsequent defence of these actions was complex and arcane, drawing on some of the arguments submitted by fascist sympathisers such as William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) and Ezra Pound. Nevertheless, the pall of ‘treason’ continued to hang over Stuart for the remainder of his life – if not in a political sense (Ireland was officially neutral, therefore Stuart was not aiding an ‘enemy’) then certainly in the moral sense of consorting with a repugnant ideology. Black List, Section H is the novel – thirty years in preparation and writing – in which he attempts to explain (although not justify) his actions during the war years, and it raises many important questions for any account of Irish identity – and especially for Irish art - in the years after independence.

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The Judas kiss

Treason and betrayal in six modern Irish novels


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