Hand-rails to the past
McGahern and the memory of the Irish revolution
in John McGahern
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The striking cover on the Faber hardback of Amongst Women is an unequivocal image of republicanism: a worn Irish tricolour. The flag features at the end of the book, and the opening pages are also suffused with revolutionary politics. John McGahern delineates the annual meeting between Moran and his old comrade from the campaign for independence, McQuaid. The conventional image of the Irish revolution is preserved in Sean Keating's paintings from the 1920s on, where Soviet realism meets Gaelic idealisation: peasants with rifles. This suggests the world expansively recalled by McQuaid on Monaghan Day. The Treaty and Civil War lie, often unspoken of, behind the contested memory of the revolution. Denis Sampson's work has shown how deeply Proust affected McGahern's creative development, and the complexities of personal and family relationships are played and re-played through McGahern's work.

John McGahern

Authority and vision

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