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

It is a central thesis that nineteenth-century Ireland went through a series of traumatic processes of modernization, which have been denied and repressed in their aftermath. The mediated presence of Sheridan Le Fanu and Honore de Balzac in the work of W.B. Yeats brings to a head political questions of the utmost gravity, the most notable being Yeats's engagement with fascism. Le Fanu has been persistently aligned with a so-called Irish gothic tradition. The objective in this book is to observe the historical forces inscribed in Le Fanu's distinctive non-affiliation to this doubtful tradition. The book presents a French response to Charles Maturin's gothic work, Melmoth the Wanderer, which is followed by discussion of a triangular pattern linking Balzac, Le Fanu and Yeats. This is followed by an attempt to pay concentrate attention within the texts of Le Fanu's novels and tales, with only a due regard for the historical setting of Le Fanu's The House by the Churchyard. An admirer of Le Fanu's fiction, Elizabeth Bowen adopted some of the stock-in-trade of the ghost story to investigate altered experiences of reality under the blitz. A detailed examination of her The Heat of the Day serves to reopen questions of fixity of character, national identity and historical reflexivity. In this work, the empty seat maintained for the long dead Guy might be decoded as a suitably feeble attempt to repatriate Le Fanu's Guy Deverell from an English to an Irish 1950s setting.

so touchy and treacherous no doubt arises from the suppression of violence.’ 3 If The Heat of the Day is the major achievement of Elizabeth Bowen’s career during the war years and immediately after (1939–49), there is a substantial body of other work, both fiction and non-fiction, with an investigation of the intimate past occupying a prominent position in the latter

in Dissolute characters

Sheridan Le Fanu’s fiction, she adopted some of the stock-in-trade of the ghost story to investigate altered experiences of reality under the blitz. For present purposes, only her work of this period is considered, and within that The Heat of the Day (set in wartime but not published until 1949) is taken as her principal achievement in probing the mysteries of identity and

in Dissolute characters
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Treason and betrayal in six modern Irish novels

This book argues that modern Irish history encompasses a deep-seated fear of betrayal, and that this fear has been especially prevalent throughout Irish society since the revolutionary period at the outset of the twentieth century. The author goes on to argue that the novel is the literary form most apt for the exploration of betrayal in its social, political and psychological dimensions. The significance of this thesis comes into focus in terms of a number of recent developments – most notably, the economic downturn (and the political and civic betrayals implicated therein) and revelations of the Catholic Church’s failure in its pastoral mission. As many observers note, such developments have brought the language of betrayal to the forefront of contemporary Irish life. After an introductory section in which he considers betrayal from a variety of religious, psychological and literary perspectives, Gerry Smyth goes on to analyse the Irish experience of betrayal: firstly through a case study of one of the country’s most beloved legends – Deirdre of the Sorrows; and secondly, through extended discussion of six powerful Irish novels in which ideas of betrayal feature centrally - from adultery in James Joyce’s Ulysses, touting in Liam O’Flaherty’s The Informer and spying Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day, through to writing itself in Francis Stuart’s Black List, Section H, murder in Eugene McCabe’s Death and Nightingales and child abuse in Anne Enright’s The Gathering (2007). This book offers a powerful analysis of modern Irish history as regarded from the perspective of some its most incisive minds.

Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (1949)

5 A spy in the house of love: Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (1949) Nothing cracked my heart until that evening at the stony end of the healing garden when you turned and said, as if remembering a secret known long ago and long forgotten, ‘I love you.’ Brendan Kennelly, The Little Book of Judas, 151 Introduction Even during her own lifetime Elizabeth Bowen was regarded as a writer for whom issues of interpersonal betrayal featured centrally. Her major theme was always (in the words of one of her most evocative titles) ‘the death of the heart’  – the

in The Judas kiss
The trouble with gentrification

which subjects began to absorb and reflect the traces left behind by certain objects – and the post-war, liminal moment when objects began to stake out a more intimate claim on human subjectivity, opening the door for the consumerist ideology which was to define subsequent decades. Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (1948) will be brought into dialogue with Marghanita Laski’s novella The Victorian Chaise-Longue (1953) to show how both authors were interested in modern negotiations between lost, dazed and traumatised characters and the things with which they

in Mid-century gothic
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. ‘If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out’ (Mark 9: 47). More than any of Bowen’s novels, The Heat of the Day has been subjected to severe censure as to the texture of writing, even by her admirers. Some lengthy quotation may be needed in order to demonstrate the complex effects she was engaged upon. Opacity features among the charges levelled, together

in Dissolute characters
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The disinherited of literary history

presents a familiar image of England in the inter-war years, adrift, pointless, teetering towards the brink which is more fully investigated in The Death of the Heart (1938) and (obliquely) in The Heat of the Day also. The story is entitled The Disinherited’. There is no doubt that Nazi Germany courted Yeats, though the possiblity exists that a prime mover in the business was Charles

in Dissolute characters
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The rupture of loss and trauma

making and building peace, is plain from the evidence, if we are to take seriously the human suffering and the longer-term risks to civic society and peace itself. Many of those who have borne the heat of the day need the help of those who seek to make peace and make amends, and the attentions of those who aid peace processes. Here, a case is made for addressing the mental health impact of conflict and war. It is made

in Conflict, peace and mental health
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of other films and novels. For instance, two recent reviews of John Banville’s novel, Mrs Osmond (derived from Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady ), invoke it: the Financial Review ’s contains the phrase ‘brief encounters’ in its heading; 36 and Brenda Niall, in the Australian Book Review , wrote how Isabel Osmond ‘relives her past in a series of brief encounters’. 37 In an online reappraisal of Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (1948) can be found the following: ‘Bowen’s attempt to widen the scope beyond the middle classes she’s most comfortable

in The never-ending Brief Encounter