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Breaking the Mould

Literary Representations of Irish Catholicism


Edited By Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien

Catholicism has played a central role in Irish society for centuries. It is sometimes perceived in a negative light, being associated with repression, antiquated morality and a warped view of sexuality. However, there are also the positive aspects that Catholicism brought to bear on Irish culture, such as the beauty of its rituals, education and health care, or concern for the poor and the underprivileged. Whatever their experience of Catholicism, writers of a certain generation could not escape its impact on their lives, an impact which is pervasive in the literature they produced.
This study, containing twelve chapters written by a range of distinguished literary experts and emerging scholars, explores in a systematic manner the cross-fertilisation between Catholicism and Irish/Irish-American literature written in English. The figures addressed in the book include James Joyce, Maud Gonne, Constance Markievicz, Kate O’Brien, Edwin O’Connor, Brian Moore, John McGahern, Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan, Vincent Carroll and Brian Friel. This book will serve to underline the complex relationship between creative writers and the once all-powerful religious Establishment.


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Acknowledgements vii EAMON MAHER AND EUGENE O’BRIEN Introduction 1 Part 1 Precursors of Change 11 JEANNE I. LAKATOS The Semiotic Theory of Iconic Realism and Cultural Dissonance in de Meun’s and de Lorris’s Roman de la Rose and James Joyce’s Ulysses 13 CATHY MCGLYNN ‘In the buginning is the woid’: Creation, Paternity and the Logos in Joyce’s Ulysses 29 MARY PIERSE The Donkey and the Sabbath 45 Part 2 Developments in the Irish and Irish-American Novel 67 SHARON TIGHE-MOONEY Exploring the Irish Catholic Mother in Kate O’Brien’s Pray for the Wanderer 69 AINTZANE LEGARRETA MENTXAKA A Catholic Agnostic – Kate O’Brien 87 vi JAMES SILAS ROGERS Edwin O’Connor’s Language of Grace 105 EAMON MAHER Issues of Faith in Selected Fiction by Brian Moore (1921–1999) 125 PETER GUY ‘Earth’s Crammed with Heaven, and every Common Bush Afire with God’: Religion in the Fiction of John McGahern 141 Part 3 The Poets and the Playwrights 157 EUGENE O’BRIEN ‘Any Catholics among you …?’: Seamus Heaney and the Real of Catholicism 159 JOHN MCDONAGH ‘Hopping Round Knock Shrine in the Falling Rain’: Revision and Catholicism in the Poetry of Paul Durcan 179 VICTOR MERRIMAN ‘To sleep is safe, to dream is dangerous’: Catholicism on Stage in Independent Ireland 193 TONY CORBETT Ef fing the Inef fable: Brian Friel’s Wonderful Tennessee and the Interrogation of Transcendence 213 Notes on Contributors 233 Index 237

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