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Family and Dysfunction in Contemporary Irish Narrative and Film

Edited By Marisol Morales-Ladrón

Institutionalized through religious, moral and political discourses, the family has become an icon of Irish culture. Historically, the influence of the Church and the State fostered the ideal of a nuclear family based on principles of Catholic morality, patriarchal authority, heterosexuality and hierarchy, which acted as the cornerstone of Irish society. However, in recent decades the introduction of liberal policies, the progressive recognition of women’s rights, the secularization of society and the effects of immigration and globalization have all contributed to challenging the validity of this ideal, revealing the dysfunction that may lie at the heart of the rigidly constructed family cell. This volume surveys the representation of the concepts of home and family in contemporary Irish narrative and film, approaching the issue from a broad range of perspectives. The earlier chapters look at specific aspects of familial dysfunction, while the final section includes interviews with the writer Emer Martin and filmmakers Jim Sheridan and Kirsten Sheridan.
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Juan F. Elices – Familiar Dysfunctionalities in Contemporary Irish Satirical Literature


← 199 | 200 →JUAN F. ELICES

ABSTRACT: From its very origins, satire has been categorized as one of the most dysfunctional and undefinable literary modes. Some scholars postulate that it is ‘parasitic’ and that it lacks any generic predictability, which turns its conceptualization into an utterly difficult task. It seems, therefore, that approaching the problematic issue of the Irish dysfunctional family from a satiric point of view can foster quite fruitful intersections, as some contemporary Irish novels suitably demonstrate. This chapter will basically seek to dig into the analysis of a series of contemporary Irish narratives that problematize on the family as an institution whose dysfunctionalities can trigger not only depressing and deeply troubled scenarios but also situations that become the object of satire’s most biting views. Among the novels that will be examined in this study, the following should be highlighted: Anne Haverty’s One Day as a Tiger (1998), Mark Macauley’s The House of Slamming Doors (2010) and Julian Quinn’s Mount Merrion (2013).

Looking back on the evolution of literary satire, it is easy to conclude that this has been a rather unpredictable and, very often, dysfunctional literary mode. From its still highly debatable origins to the theoretical difficulties scholars and academics have encountered to articulate a consistent definition, the nature of satire seems to provide a suitable arena for the exploration of the family as a key institution to better understand the Irish idiosyncrasy. It goes without saying that Ireland has fostered some of the...

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