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Revolution and Evolution


Edited By John Strachan and Alison O'Malley-Younger

The essays in this collection all revolve around the notion of change in Ireland, whether by revolution or by evolution. Developments in the shared histories of Ireland and Great Britain are an important theme throughout the book. The volume begins by examining two remarkable Irishmen on the make in Georgian London: the boxing historian Pierce Egan and the extraordinary Charles Macklin, eighteenth-century actor, playwright and manslaughterer. The focus then moves to aspects of Hibernian influence and the presence of the Irish Diaspora in Great Britain from the medieval period up to the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century celebrations of St Patrick’s Day in Manchester. The book also considers the very different attitudes to the British Empire evident in the career of the 1916 rebel Sir Roger Casement and the Victorian philologist and colonial servant Whitley Stokes. Further essays look at writings by Scottish Marxists on the state of Ireland in the 1920s and the pronouncements on the Troubles by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
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.


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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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