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Essays on John McGahern Reviews

Essays on John McGahern by Derek Hand, Eamon Maher

Essays on John McGahern: Assessing a literacy legacy

Derek Hand, Eamon Maher

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1 review

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: Cork University Press
Publisher: Cork University Press
Publication date: 15 Mar 2019
ISBN: 9781782053293

This collection of essays, written by many of the foremost McGahern scholars, provides solid reasons for why the Leitrim writer has assumed canonical status since his premature death in 2006, an event which sparked something akin to a period of national mourning in Ireland.

3 stars out of 5
10 Aug 2019

"However valuable these essays, we must remain in awe of the great, unique work on which they feast"

The editors acknowledge that McGahern portrays “the elusive complexities of people as they are”, in “a reality that is both light and dark”. But they also credit him with creating “a fictional world that had never been”. How do they know? The book is arranged in three sections, with a foreword by Declan Kiberd and an afterword by Donal Ryan. Mapping Literary Strategies looks at McGahern in the context of Irish writing. Images of Place and the Role of Memory is potentially the most rewarding but I found these essays for the most part did not honour their collective title. Friendship, Anger and Sexual Repression was not quite the minefield of pretension that it sounds. The more helpful essays are the biographical.