We are coming up to the 10th anniversary of the death of John McGahern (30 March 2016) who has been widely acknowledged as one of the foremost Irish prose writers of the twentieth and the early twenty-first century. This new book published by Cork University Press on McGahern’s fiction argues how he was not only an acute social commentator but also an intelligent and perceptive reader interested in the nature and function of literature. It presents McGahern as a highly literary writer aware of the various literary traditions he had inherited, and shows how his imagination was shaped by his lifelong immersion in Irish, English and European literature.
Drawing on archival material as well as on original close readings of his fiction, Stanley van der Ziel examines how McGahern’s reading of classic books and authors determined the concerns of his novels and stories, by placing some key elements of McGahern’s aesthetic in their appropriate literary contexts.
From the referee:
Dr van der Ziel’s work on John McGahern must be published. For ten years now – in his PhD dissertation at UCD, in the editing of McGahern’s non-fiction for Faber and Faber, in his introduction to that collection, and in recent articles – he has shown a mastery of McGahern’s work that is unequalled. That mastery is grounded in a unique familiarity with McGahern’s fiction and non-fiction so that the facility of his recall of the telling detail, his sense of interconnections and echoes in the texts, his sympathetic and perceptive sense of how McGahern’s imagination worked, and his wide reading in the literary traditions in which McGahern found a home are unparalleled. And now he has added extensive research in the archive of McGahern’s papers at NUIG to his arsenal so that another rich context has made his insights into McGahern’s work even more reliable and trustworthy. The quality of research and reading which underlies this manuscript puts it in a category of its own in McGahern scholarship.
Stanley van der Ziel is the Blair Chair Postdoctoral research associate at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool. He has previously taught English and Irish Literature at University College Dublin, the University of Limerick and St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.
Further details at:
Cork University Press February 2016 | 9781782051640 | €39 £35 | Hardback | 234 x 156mm| 320 pages