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Authority and vision

John McGahern is one of those writers whose work continues to be appreciated across a range of readerships. As a writer who eschewed the notion of himself as 'artist' he addressed his task through a commitment to style, what he called the 'revelation of the personality through language'. McGahern's work began to receive critical attention only from when Denis Sampson's seminal study, Outstaring Nature's Eye: The Fiction of John McGahern was published in 1993. This book focuses on the physical landscape to show how the inadequacy of the State that emerged after 1922 is reflected in the characters' shifting relationship with the landscape, the connection has been made vulnerable through trauma and painful memory. It explores this sense of resentment and disillusionment in McGahern's novels, drawing parallels between the revolutionary memories and McGahern's own family experience. McGahern's All Over Ireland offers a number of fine stories, mostly set in Ireland, and dealing with distinctly Irish themes. He wrote a novel that is an example of openness, compassion and understanding for any form of strangeness. The vision of education and of the shaping of identity found in his writing is not an idiosyncratic one - it is consistent with much of the best thought within the tradition of liberal education. The book provides an intriguing comparison between McGahern and Flannery O'Connor, illustrating how diverse stories share an underlying current of brutality, demonstrating their respective authors' preoccupation with a human propensity towards evil.

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Željka Doljanin and Máire Doyle

’. For McGahern this is the task both of the writer and of the human being. As a writer who eschewed the notion of himself as ‘artist’ he addressed his task through a commitment to style, what he called the ‘revelation of the personality through language’.6 Like Joyce, he also rarely gave his characters language that could not be claimed as their own, even when, like the dying Elizabeth Reegan in The Barracks, they struggle towards understanding. There is irony in young Mahoney’s optimistic hope that authority may even manifest itself as ‘calmness … in the face of the

in John McGahern