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John McGahern and the Art of Memory


Dermot McCarthy

In 2005, when John McGahern published his Memoir, he revealed for the first time in explicit detail the specific nature of the autobiographical dimension of his fiction, a dimension he had hitherto either denied or mystified. Taking Memoir as a paradigmatic work of memory, confession, and imaginative recovery, this book is a close reading of McGahern’s novels that discovers his narrative poiēsis in both the fiction and the memoir to be a single, continuous, and coherent mythopoeic project concealed within the career of a novelist writing ostensibly in the realist tradition of modern Irish fiction. McGahern’s total body of work centres around the experiences of loss, memory, and imaginative recovery. To read his fiction as an art of memory is to recognize how he used story-telling to confront the extended grief and anger that blighted his early life and that shaped his sense of self and world. It is also to understand how he gradually, painfully and honestly wrote his way out of the darkness and despair of the early work into the luminous celebration of life and the world in his great last novel That They May Face the Rising Sun.


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Bibliography 321


Bibliography Works by John McGahern (in order of publication) ‘The End or the Beginning of Love: Episodes from a Novel.’ (1961). An Anthology from X: A Quarterly Review of Literature and the Arts, 1959–62, ed. Patrick Swift and David Wright. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. 153–63. The Barracks. (1963). London: Faber and Faber, 1983. The Dark. (1965). London: Faber and Faber, 2008. ‘The Image (Prologue to a Reading at the Rockefeller University).’ The Honest Ulster- man 8 (December 1968): 10. Nightlines. London: Faber and Faber, 1970. The Leavetaking. London: Faber and Faber, 1974. Rev. ed., London: Faber and Faber, 1984. Getting Through. London: Faber and Faber, 1978. New York: Harper and Row, 1980. The Pornographer. (1979). London: Faber and Faber, 1990. ‘Preface to the Second Edition.’ The Leavetaking. 2nd edn, rev. London: Faber and Faber, 1984. Amongst Women. London: Faber and Faber, 1990. ‘The Image’ (rev. version). Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 17 (1991):12. ‘Reading and Writing.’ In Jacqueline Genet and Wynne Hellegouarc’h, eds, Irish Writers and Their Creative Process. Irish Literary Studies 48. Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1996. 103–9. That They May Face the Rising Sun. London: Faber and Faber, 2002. Memoir. London: Faber and Faber, 2005. ‘What Is My Language?’ Irish University Review 35.1 (Spring/Summer 2005): 1–12. Creatures of the Earth: New and Selected Stories. London: Faber and Faber, 2006. ‘God and Me.’ 28 December 2006. 28 July 2008. . 322 Bibliography Criticism, Reviews, Interviews Adair, Tom. ‘Darker side of Irish...

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