Chapter Five - Breaking the Moulds – Part I: The Leavetaking (1974; rev. 1984) 119
Chapter Five Breaking the Moulds – Part I: The Leavetaking (1974; rev. 1984) McGahern considered the writing of his third novel to be a turning-point in his career: ‘I would actually have stopped as a writer unless I had broken out of my own moulds in The Leavetaking’.1 In 1979, five years after its publication, he told Denis Sampson: ‘it was actually a book I had to write’.2 It seems, however, that the process of ‘breaking out’ remained unfinished and was not completed until, taking advantage of a proposed French trans- lation, McGahern revised the second part of the novel for a new edition in 1984. In his ‘Preface to the Second Edition’ McGahern explained that he felt the way he had presented the figure of ‘the beloved’ in the original ver- sion of Part II had prevented the work from achieving ‘that inner formality or calm, that all writing, no matter what it is attempting, must possess’ (L 1984: ). What needs to be recognized, however, is that whether or not the revised version of The Leavetaking does achieve the ‘inner formality or calm’ McGahern desired, it was the writing of The Pornographer that in large part ‘enabled’ the revisions that finally ‘broke the moulds’ of the early writing. But what might that mean? What makes the two versions of The Leavetaking when taken together such a ‘breakthrough’? What were the ‘conscious risks’3 he told Denis Sampson he took while writing the story of Patrick Moran, the young, recently married...
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