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.
revolutionarymemories of McGahern’s protagonists and McGahern’s own
family experience. These protagonists, in Amongst Women and That They
May Face the Rising Sun, voice a generational anger and distrust of the
new regime which, Foster suggests, reflects the resentment expressed in
the literature of disillusionment of the 1920s and 1930s. Similarly touching
on memory and the ways in which events are remembered, mythologised
and commemorated, in his philosophical reading Ciaran Ross (Chapter
5) draws attention to the unresolved ethical
. Here we might remember Moran’s attitudes towards
fellow Irishmen who happen to be Protestant. He is a devout Catholic,
furious when McQuaid refers to priests as ‘druids’ in league with the
crooks who run the country. But he is formally respectful of his Protestant
neighbours, emphasising that the war he fought was never a sectarian
one. Nonetheless, we also might remember Sinclair, a local Protestant
murdered as a ‘spy’ in That They May Face the Rising Sun.
The revolutionarymemories preserved by McGahern’s characters are
not those of the radical young activists of
Tricontinental of the OSPAAAL. Those connections are
being studied within the international project Partisan
Resistance(s): Visual culture, collective imagination and
revolutionarymemory , based at the Université
Grenoble Alpes, France.
, Literature and Revolution , 224. See also:
Pierre Taminiaux, ‘Breton and Trotsky:
The RevolutionaryMemory of Surrealism’, Yale French
Studies 109 (2006): 52–66 ; Harris,
Surrealist Art and Thought , 51–61.
Breton, ‘On Proletarian
Ibid. , 91. Gavin Parkinson,
‘Painting as Propaganda and Prophecy’, Oxford Art
Journal 41: 2 (2018): 249–69.
André Breton, ‘Political Position