The lived narrative versus the learned narrative
in John McGahern
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Great writers find their characters and themes and the scenes they needed to convey and illustrate ideas in the world around them. John McGahern was a storyteller who found in personal experience and in the quiet world around him the raw material he needed to explain the conflict, cruelty and the comedy, absurdity and beauty of existence. For both Seamus Heaney and Sorley MacLean, the poetry inspired by large historical events and philosophical ideas found expression in the voices that filled the silences and spaces in their memories of growing up remote. MacLean was burdened for his entire life by the disintegration of his boyhood island culture and his native language, a lifelong mourning over lost love and a recurring theme of personal failure for having skipped the Spanish Civil War.

John McGahern

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