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Demons, Hamlets and Femmes Fatales

Representations of Irish Republicanism in Popular Fiction

Jayne Steel

The book provides a lively discussion of the ways in which popular fiction appropriates the figure of the Provisional IRA activist and the political conflict within the north of Ireland. It looks at how authors’ recreations, or transformations, of Irish republicanism might reveal self-referentional images that are, ultimately, a product of national identity and/or gender identity. An important focus of the book interrogates British fascination and fixation with the Provisional IRA and its ‘terrors’.
The many novels discussed in this study include Gerald Seymour Harry’s Game; Campbell Armstrong Jig; Bernard MacLaverty Cal; Mary Costello Titanic Town; Jennifer Johnston Shadows on our Skin; Deidre Madden One by One through the Darkness.


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Preface 9 Acknowledgements 11 Introduction 13 Chapter 1 ‘The Usual Suspects’: Demonic Representations of the Provisional IRA 25 1.1 Signs of Evil 25 1.2 ‘Youse Dirty Rat!’: The IRA and Gangsterism 46 1.3 ‘Reds in the Bed’: The IRA and the Communist Scare 57 1.4 ‘I know how rumours start’: Homosexuality and the Irish Gunman 75 1.5 ‘Let the Devil take the hindmost’: From the SAS to Thatcherism 91 Chapter 2 To Kill or Not to Kill?: Hamlet and the Provisional IRA 109 2.1 The Universal Dilemma 109 2.2 ‘Imagine Hamlet in Irish’: Campbell Armstrong’s Jig 124 2.3 ‘Would you die for me?’: Bernard MacLaverty’s Cal 142 Chapter 3 VAMPIRA 169 3.1 Vampira: ‘The Sexy Steps of Terror’ 169 3.2 Demons of the Cause and Angels in the House 176 3.3 The Blonde ‘Thing’ 188 3.4 The Mother of Suffering and Desire 194 8 Chapter 4 ‘It’s the Valium talking’?: Fempira and Women Writing Back 215 4.1 Politicizing the Private 215 4.2 How not to Appropriate Social Realism?: Jennifer Johnston’s Shadows on our Skin 225 4.3 More Subversive Tales To Tell … ? 230 Conclusion 249 List of Illustrations 255 Bibliography 257 Index 269

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