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New Critical Perspectives on Franco-Irish Relations

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Edited By Anne Goarzin

This collection of critical essays proposes new and original readings of the relationship between French and Irish literature and culture. It seeks to re-evaluate, deconstruct and question artistic productions and cultural phenomena while pointing to the potential for comparative analysis between the two countries. The volume covers the French wine tradition, the Irish rebellion and the weight of religious and cultural tradition in both countries, seeking to examine these familiar topics from unconventional perspectives. Some contributors offer readings of established figures in Irish and French literature, from Flann O’Brien to Albert Camus; others highlight writers who have been left outside the critical frame, including Sydney Owenson, Jean Giono and Katherine Cecil Thurston. Finally, the volume explores areas such as sport, education, justice and alternative religious practices, generating unexpected and thought-provoking cultural connections between France and Ireland.
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The Challenges of Katherine Cecil Thurston’s Max (1910)

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Katherine Cecil Thurston’s 1910 novel Max1 achieves a subtle interweaving of Franco-Irish connections into a romantic tale that cleverly targets prevailing orthodoxy and prejudice regarding gender, the position of women and artists, personal freedoms, and racist and national bigotry. While the book is often identified as a New Woman novel, its focus is actually much wider than that, and a determinedly political stance underpins its smooth unpicking of several stereotypes promulgated in English press and print. Max is ostensibly popular reading material rather than partisan publication; it is persuasive rather than polemical. Nonetheless, its challenges to convention and to dominant discourses are unwavering and innovative, despite being artistically and skilfully enfolded into the son et lumière of fin-de-siècle Paris through word, picture and close musical linkages – a multi-dimensional, synaesthetic combination that enriches reference and understanding.

The name and history of Cork woman Katherine Cecil Thurston (18 April 1875–5 September 1911) are not widely recognized despite some critical attention in recent years. However, when Max was published in New York, Thurston was famous. The novel was a bestseller on the American market in 1910, and it was not the first time that Thurston had achieved such prominence and such success. Her novels John Chilcote, M.P. (published as The Masquerader in the United States) had been on the New York Times Best Seller list in 1904 and in 1905. Her novel The Gambler (1905), achieved the same status. That was a remarkable record: it was...

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