John McGahern: memory, autobiography, fiction, history

Summer 2009

Discusses the work of John McGahern, and the generic and political relationship between autobiography, fiction and the essay, querying the line between the genres and exploring the affective and aesthetic work that each accomplishes. McGahern’s autobiographically charged fiction is a contribution to collective memory - more than simply making the personal public. He gives the psychic and social, political and physical landscape a kind of subjectivity - representing a synthesis of rural Ireland. Exploring McGahern’s ‘autobiographical naturalism’ in his mature novels, Ryle comments on the paradoxically detached narrative voice through which remembered experience, itself laden with affect, is expressed.

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