Confronting Violence in Contemporary Prose Writing from the North of Ireland
Chapter 7: Aesthetics of Violence in Contemporary Irish Short Fiction
Aesthetics of Violence in Contemporary Irish Short Fiction
‘They haven’t gone away you know.’ This statement, uttered by Gerry Adams in 1995 in response to a member of the crowd asking him to ‘bring back the IRA’, has entered common parlance to the extent that it is frequently used in media headlines to refer to anything from a potential Fianna Fáil political comeback to English Premier League football.1 Considered in the context in which Adams uttered it, the phrase is often taken to be a provocative one, suggesting that the IRA were waiting in the wings for an encore that Sinn Féin could usher on stage at any time they didn’t get their way politically. This is to ignore the perspicacity of the statement behind Adams’ wry humour, however, since a place which has been locked into a vicious war for three decades does not transform overnight into a haven of peace and the actors of that conflict do not just disappear. It is no surprise then that violence continues to simmer and erupt every so often as old tensions rise to the surface and it is certainly not unexpected to detect an ongoing engagement with violence in the contemporary Irish short story which has, as Michael L. Storey informs us in his monograph entitled Representing the Troubles in Irish Short Fiction, from 1920 onwards, ‘recorded the shifting attitudes of the Irish toward every aspect of the Troubles: nationalist ideology, armed rebellion...
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