‘A family – a whole fucking country – drowning in shame’
Anne Enright’s The Gathering (2007)
in The Judas kiss
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Anne Enright’s novel brings the theme of betrayal in Irish life down to the near present. It is the story of the generation which, heir to a century of rhetoric and propaganda, finally had to face up to the truth of widespread, systematic, institutional abuse at large within Irish society. The Gathering traces the impact of that abuse in the lives of an ordinary Irish family, exposing the ways in which the sins of the past continue to poison and distort the present (in which respect it is of course a very typical Irish novel). The characters of Liam and Veronica Hegarty symbolise different aspects of the potential response to the single act of betrayal lurking in their family history: one ‘resolves’ the past through suicide, the other through a search for healing via the process of narrative.

The Judas kiss

Treason and betrayal in six modern Irish novels

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