Mediating the Past
The House by the Church yard
in Dissolute characters
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The opening pages of The House by the Church-yard are a dies irae, day of wrath, or even Day of Judgement for the Irish eighteenth century. In strict literary terms, The House by the Churchyard owes less to Scott than to the costume novels of Harrison Ainsworth, and also to the (anti-)puritan fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The innumerable elements and sub-elements into which The House by the Church-yard might be analysed are arranged in a centrifugal pattern precisely so as to screen from scrutiny the actual centre from which they issue. The House by the Church-yard combines two never wholly reconcilable aspects. It excavates the past, laying bare the evidence of deceit and homocide. It assimilates the past, transforming the ruddy-handed Eliabethan lord of creation into a dreamy paterfamilias or love-struck soldier.

Dissolute characters

Irish literary history through Balzac, Sheridan Le Farm, Yeats and Bowen

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