Show Less
Restricted access

Frank Confessions

Performance in the Life-Writings of Frank McCourt


Margaret Eaton

This book aims to redress the critical neglect of Frank McCourt’s life-writing, which has been dismissed all too frequently as «misery memoir» and deemed commercially driven or aesthetically and politically naïve. It reassesses the life cycle of McCourt’s work, investigating the experiences that shaped his desire to write and demonstrating a nuanced and multifaceted network of stimuli and references. This new approach reimagines McCourt’s work as a series of complex constructions that are inherently performative in nature (including the multiple identities that he assigns himself) and draw on recurrent clichés and stereotypical characters formed from a medley of literary, theatrical, cinematic and popular performance traditions. The author uncovers reference points, intertexts and sources that McCourt appropriates from the Irish language tradition, storytelling, nationalistic songs, the popular music of New York City, the films of Hollywood, other memoirs, Joycean literature, melodrama and theatre. This dynamic has been recognized by other performance practitioners, and the book also explores how McCourt’s life-writing has inspired creative adaptations for stage and screen.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Conclusion: Curtain Fall


← 224 | 225 →


Curtain Fall

This book began with the intention of redressing some of the significant lack of criticism focusing on Frank McCourt’s life-writing, which has been dismissed all too frequently as misery memoir, and his literary efforts judged as commercially driven or aesthetically and politically naïve. This objective has been achieved in five distinct chapters that have responded to the life cycle of McCourt’s work itself to communicate the experiences that formed in him the desire to write, and to establish that his writing consists of a more multifaceted and nuanced imbrication of stimuli and references.

Each chapter has, in diverse ways, identified the inherent performative dynamic which McCourt deploys to rework and revitalize his impoverished, traumatic childhood in a way that appeals to his Irish and American audiences simultaneously by making use of his dual nationality and fluid identity that being Irish-American affords him. Yet, McCourt’s hybrid identity comes at some cost and raises the question of his authority as an Irish interpreter. This book has determined throughout that in order to be considered an ‘Irish’ writer McCourt had to assemble certain forms of conduct that are readily understood as Irish. Thus, McCourt ensures that his hybrid identities are performative in origin and effect through his engagement with the art of self-fashioning with which he constructs a form of ‘Irishness’ from social and cultural codes and conventions, and ‘Institutions’ like family, religion and state. As the book has...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.