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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

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Demons, Hamlets and Femmes Fatales is a lively, rigorous, and perhaps contentious, interrogation of the ways in which popular fic- tion appropriates the figure of the Provisional IRA and the political conflict within the north of Ireland; a conflict euphemistically termed the ‘Troubles’. Throughout, I look at how British and Irish recre- ations, or hysterical repetitions, of Irish republicanism reveal, at both a conscious and unconscious level, self-referentional images that are, ultimately, a product of human subjectivity, national identity and/or gender politics. These images include a recurrence of ‘pleasurable’ stereotypes which include comic, demonic and guilt-ridden Hamlet figures. Although I concentrate upon popular fiction, the significance of film and the media to my analyses cannot be ignored. For instance, many of the novels that I discuss have been adapted to film. For this reason I have, where relevant, included discussion about such texts. An important focus my study resides in the interrogation of the British and male fascination and fixation with the Provisional IRA and its ‘trauma’. Importantly, though, I compare and contrast novels writ- ten by male and Irish authors that deploy the same generic conven- tions as male and British authors (frequently through the thriller genre) but, sometimes, for different reasons. These reasons often focus upon gender politics. By way of a response to these male-authored narratives, I also analyse female-authored texts to establish whether or not women writers might be able to challenge the, previously dominant, male nar- ratives through, for example, the deconstruction of female stereotypes....

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