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Breaking the Mould

Maher, Eamon / O’Brien, Eugene (eds)

Breaking the Mould

Literary Representations of Irish Catholicism

Series: Reimagining Ireland - Volume 36

Year of Publication: 2011

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2011. VIII, 241 pp.
ISBN 978-3-0343-0232-6 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.390 kg, 0.860 lbs

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Book synopsis

Catholicism has played a central role in Irish society for centuries. It is sometimes perceived in a negative light, being associated with repression, antiquated morality and a warped view of sexuality. However, there are also the positive aspects that Catholicism brought to bear on Irish culture, such as the beauty of its rituals, education and health care, or concern for the poor and the underprivileged. Whatever their experience of Catholicism, writers of a certain generation could not escape its impact on their lives, an impact which is pervasive in the literature they produced.
This study, containing twelve chapters written by a range of distinguished literary experts and emerging scholars, explores in a systematic manner the cross-fertilisation between Catholicism and Irish/Irish-American literature written in English. The figures addressed in the book include James Joyce, Maud Gonne, Constance Markievicz, Kate O’Brien, Edwin O’Connor, Brian Moore, John McGahern, Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan, Vincent Carroll and Brian Friel. This book will serve to underline the complex relationship between creative writers and the once all-powerful religious Establishment.


Contents: Eamon Maher/Eugene O’Brien: Introduction – Jeanne I. Lakatos: The Semiotic Theory of Iconic Realism and Cultural Dissonance in de Meun’s and de Lorris’s Roman de la Rose and James Joyce’s Ulysses – Cathy McGlynn: ‘In the buginning is the woid’: Creation, Paternity and the Logos in Joyce’s Ulysses – Mary Pierse: The Donkey and the Sabbath – Sharon Tighe-Mooney: Exploring the Irish Catholic Mother in Kate O’Brien’s Pray for the Wanderer – Aintzane Legarreta Mentxaka: Catholic Agnostic - Kate O’Brien – James Silas Rogers: Edwin O’Connor’s Language of Grace – Eamon Maher: Issues of Faith in Selected Fiction by Brian Moore (1921-1999) – Peter Guy: ‘Earth’s Crammed with Heaven, and every Common Bush Afire with God’: Religion in the Fiction of John McGahern – Eugene O’Brien: ‘Any Catholics among you …?’: Seamus Heaney and the Real of Catholicism – John McDonagh: ‘Hopping Round Knock Shrine in the Falling Rain’: Revision and Catholicism in the Poetry of Paul Durcan – Victor Merriman: ‘To sleep is safe, to dream is dangerous’: Catholicism on Stage in Independent Ireland – Tony Corbett: Effing the Ineffable: Brian Friel’s Wonderful Tennessee and the Interrogation of Transcendence.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Eamon Maher is Director of the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies at the Institute of Technology, Tallaght. He is currently completing a monograph entitled ‘The Church and its Spire’: John McGahern and the Catholic Question.
Eugene O’Brien is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of English Language and Literature at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. His previous publications include ‘Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse’: Negotiating Texts and Contexts in Contemporary Irish Studies (2009).


Reimagining Ireland. Vol. 36
Edited by Eamon Maher