Author Topic: John McGahern  (Read 4206 times)

Hermes

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John McGahern
« on: January 21, 2008, 08:44:26 AM »
John McGahern suffered considerable psychological and also physical abuse in his childhood (his father was a brutal, unpleasant and evidently touching on insane).  This author has written about it, and on his very very rare interviews talked about it, quite dispassionately, with the interviewer.
He is also rate in that his books were (are) on the curriculum in this country, during his lifetime.  He died quite recently.


http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,1743617,00.html

""John McGahern, who has died from cancer, aged 71, was arguably the most important Irish novelist since Samuel Beckett. Although he had many rivals in the field of short story writing (most notably William Trevor), his novels The Barracks (1963), The Dark (1965), The Leavetaking (1974), The Pornographer (1979), Amongst Women (1990), shortlisted for the Booker prize, and That They May Face the Rising Sun (2002) constitute a portrait of a society moving from insular repression (in the earlier writing) towards freedom and self-confidence (in the latter).

While he was taking a sabbatical as a result of winning an Arts Council fellowship for The Barracks (which was removed from the local library in his village), The Dark was banned by the Irish board of censorship, and he was told not to resume his teaching position. He defied the instruction, resumed his job and was dismissed on the instructions of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid.
Even in the mid-1960s the social and cultural stigma attached to the author of a banned book was enormous."""

Hopalong

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Re: John McGahern
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2008, 12:50:44 PM »
Wow. What would be the first one, that you'd advise?

thanks for the tip,
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Hermes

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Re: John McGahern
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2008, 02:15:30 PM »
Thank you Hopalong.  All John McGahern's books are so good that I would be hard put to say which is my favourite.  The Barracks is excellent.  He is the one author I would loved to have met.

This author was such a nice, plain, unassuming man, who despite his fame went back to where he lived as a boy, and farmed a bit as well as writing.  A very extraordinary person, who overcame not just a pretty shocking childhood, but being forced to leave Ireland (and we are talking the sixties, not medieval times!) because he wrote a book called The Dark, a book in no way offensive at all, but the all powerful Catholic church thought otherwise. 
Some forty years later, and I am sure McGahern himself was amused, his books are on the curriculum for the final exams at our secondary schools.

All the best
Hermes



Hermes

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John McGahern
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2008, 02:12:43 PM »
http://www.catholicireland.net/pages/index.php?nd=57&art=204

Joyce abandoned Catholicism in order to devote himself to the God of Art. After him came a number of Irish writers who were at a remove from organised religion because of severe censorship laws and a State whose policies were at times indistinguishable from the dictates of the church. Any attempt to portray sexual relations between men and women (or between two men, as Kate O’Brien discovered to her cost) or to present a slant on religion that didn’t conform to the dominant mores of the time, was likely to incur the wrath of the Censorship of Publications Board.

One writer who fell foul of this system was John McGahern, whose second novel, The Dark, was banned in 1965. Although he has maintained that  censorship was considered something of a joke by writers at the time, McGahern was unfortunate to be on the State payroll as a national school teacher. Therefore, he lost his job after the banning of his book and his marriage in a registry office in England. He paid a high price for his depiction of the voyage to manhood of an adolescent male, Mahoney, who was the victim of sexual abuse by his father. In addition to that, Mahoney’s cousin, Fr. Gerald, causes him to feel more than a little uncomfortable when he visits the boy’s bedroom late one night, ostensibly to discuss his vocation. Referring, even obliquely, to a clerical paedophile in the Ireland of the 1960s was moving in on dangerous territory.