The fiction of John McGahern occupies a central place in all accounts of Irish literature and society during the second half of the twentieth century. Dr. Whyte's analysis is critical, historical and bibliographical and includes a lively interview with McGahern. The analysis is extraordinarily coherent and covers the related elements of social context, aesthetic form, doctrinal imagery, family dynamics and sexual politics.
Acknowledgements ix; Foreword, by Riana O'Dwyer xi; Note on Abbreviations and References xvii; Introduction 1; Chapter 1 The Social Context: Between Two Worlds 21; (i) The Socio-Historical Background 21; (ii) The Making of a Myth: McGahern's (Re)vision of History 26; (iii) 'Between Two Worlds': The Barracks and The Dark 32; (iv) A Changing World 45; (v) The World of Manners 51; Chapter 2 The Struggle for Form: McGahern's Aesthetic 59; (i) The Problem with the Novel Form 60; (ii) The Writer in a Changing Society 62; (iii) McGahern and his Audience: 'Cut off from the Public World'? 67; (iv) O'Crohan and the Search for an Epic Style 75; (v) A Fallen World 80; (vi) Language, Epic and Novel: Bakhtin in an Irish Context 87; Chapter 3 Religion and Ritual: Instinct and the Formal Pattern 95; (i) The Representation of the Church 97; (ii) Rituals and Images 102; (iii) Religion without the Church 111; (iv) Religion and Art 126; Chapter 4 The Family and Symbolic Stories 135; (i) The Family in a Changing World 136; (ii) Plot without Action? 138; (iii) The Family Drama 141; (iv) The Father 143; (v) 'Coming into his Kingdom': Moments of Transition 145; (vi) Fathers and Sons 151; (vii) Preparing to Murder 157; (viii) The Ritual of Return 161; Chapter 5 Centre and Periphery: Sexual Politics and the Ideology of Place 167; (i) The Stepmother Stereotype 167; (ii) Possessing Space 171; (iii) 'At the Centre of Life' 176; (iv) The Terrible Mother 182; (v) The Barracks: 'the fabricated structure of safe passions' 185; (vi) 'A Slip-up': 'in the shelter of her shadow' 193; (vii) 'The Beginning of an Idea': Art and Motherhood 196; (viii) 'Family Talk': Language and Nature in Amongst Women 202; Conclusion 217; Appendix: An Interview with John McGahern 227; Notes 237; Bibliography 241; Index 267