Revolution and Evolution
The book also examines change in the culture of the island of Ireland, from the development of the Irish historical novel in the nineteenth century, to ecology in contemporary Irish women’s poetry, to the present state of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Contemporary Irish authors examined include Roddy Doyle, Joseph O’Connor and Martin McDonagh.
Reimagining the Irish Historical Novel in Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry and Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea SYLVIE MIKOWSKI 183
Reimagining the Irish Historical Novel in Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry and Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea Sylvie Mikowski In 1983, James Cahalan addressed the issue of the Irish historical novel in his study Great Hatred, Little Room, in which he analysed novels by the Banim brothers, Sheridan Le Fanu, and William Carleton, but also works by Sean Ó’Faoláin and Liam O’Flaherty. Naturally enough, Cahalan referred to Georg Lukács’s famous views of the historical novel, as exemplified by Walter Scott. Scott was described by Lukács as a champion of progress through reason, moderation, and reconciliation between opposites. In his own book, Cahalan underlines the Irish novelist’s efforts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to produce novels that would imitate the pat- tern of Scott’s novels in a ‘middle-of-the-road’ progress towards resolution of conflict and a similar foregrounding of reasonable, moderate heroes who manage to win the day at the end of the story, generally by marrying either money or property, or both. But as early as the final paragraph of his introduction, Cahalan is forced to acknowledge that ‘Such moderation became impossible, however, for the Irish historical novelists faced with a present that was nearly as nightmarish as the past’ (Cahalan, 1983: 15). And he proceeds in the following chapters to dismiss most nineteenth- century Irish writers as historical novelists in the Scott–Lukács sense of the word, Carleton for instance being simply ‘no historian’, and found guilty of escaping, like Le Fanu,...
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