This collection of critical essays is marked by the contributors’ drive to challenge what may be considered as the commonly accepted critical doxa; and to address and revive lesser-known works by French and Irish authors. The chapters evince a continuing search for new angles, and display a desire to expand the literary as well as the critical field by thinking outside the box. In the first section, each contributor makes a point of confronting the critical beliefs, either by questioning the iconic position of major figures of French or Irish literature, from Camus to Giono, and from Flann O’Brien to McGahern, or by seeking to rehabilitate works that have long been overlooked, and finally by pinpointing undeserved neglect of important literary transitions.
Eamon Maher’s examination of two of Albert Camus’s best-known novels, L’Étranger (1942) and La Peste (1947), prompts a renewed critique of these works by drawing on Conor Cruise O’Brien’s controversial 1970 study, and supplies a reassessment of Camus’s position in relation to Algeria. In the wake of the centenary of Camus’s birth in Mondovi, Algeria, in 2013, Maher’s reading thus proposes a different critical frame or lens through which to reassess the myriad problems that his dual identity, French and Algerian, posed for this iconic literary figure. Gerard Connolly’s approach treads close to Maher’s as he suggests a similar need for the revaluation of French novelist Jean Giono’s politics. Connolly reflects on the ethical implications of Giono’s anarcho-pacifism and notes that his unflinching...
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