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Title: The modern Irish Bildungsroman : a narrative of resistance and deformation
Author: Mansouri, Shahriyar
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2014
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My thesis examines the ways in which the critical structure of modern Irish Bildungsroman deconstructs and re-examines ‘residues of past trauma’ in the form of socio-cultural, psychological, personal and notably political artefacts present in the nation’s unfortunate engagement with the State’s politics of formation. The result is a resistant and radical form which challenges the classical and modern specificity of the genre by introducing a non-conformist, post-Joycean protagonist, whose antithetical perception of history and socio-cultural norms contradicts the conservative efforts of the post-independence Irish State. To examine such a resistant critical structure, this thesis focuses on Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry (1999), Dermot Bolger’s The Woman’s Daughter (1987), William Trevor’s The Story of Lucy Gault (2002), Seamus Deane’s Reading In The Dark (1996), Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy (1992), Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (1996), Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls (1960) and A Pagan Place (1970), Nuala O’Faolain’s Are You Somebody? (1996), Francis Stuart’s Black List, Section H (1971), Flann O’Brien’s The Hard Life (1961), and John McGahern’s The Dark (1965). The selected novels provide an invaluable insight into the nation’s perception of sensitive concepts such as modernism and modern Irish identity, and how the confluence of these two produced a critical dialectical discourse which chronicles the formation of a non-conformist, ahistorical modern protagonist. To achieve a historical relevance, this thesis starts by examining Doyle’s fictionalization of 1916 Easter Rising and the chaotic 1920s; Bolger’s exploration of a repressive, inward-looking post-independence Irish society in the 1930s and the 1940s; Trevor’s engagement with a socio-political divide that further split the nation; Deane’s autogenous reading of an internal neocolonial ‘Othering’ during the ‘emergency’; McCabe’s illustration of the State’s architecture of oppression, and societal introversion from the early 1940s to the 1960s; Edna O’Brien’s and Nuala O’Faolain’s exemplary illustration of women’s blighted sexual Bildung in the 1940s, 50s and 60s; and finally examining a radical, ‘chronocentric’ depiction of a socio-political divide fictionalized by Stuart and McGahern, which emerged during the early days of the State and continued to dominate the nation well into the 1960s and the early 1970s. By examining psycho-social, sexual and political traumata reflected in the modern Irish Bildungsroman, this thesis provides a dialectical reading of the gap that appeared between the revolutionary ethos of independent Irish identity formation, rooted in the principles of 1916 Rising and the 1920s, and that which appeared in the form of a tolerant republicanism in the 1980s. To study this socio-historical gap, I examine the nation’s criticism of the State’s politics and structure of formation, manifested in narratives of individual and national formation. The modern Irish Bildungsroman, I argue, appropriates the traditional features of the genre, for instance, chronicling the individual’s psychosocial formation and the potential to re-engage with their society, and produces a critical matrix for a dialectical discourse which enables the nation to voice their concerns vis-à-vis a politically dichotomous post-independence Irish society, a repressed history, and at the same time to externalize their perception of modern Irish formation, being founded on an anti-colonial, non-conservative and politically aware consciousness. The result, which I call the ‘Meta-National Narrative of Formation,’ is a historically resistant and socio-politically conscious narrative which finds independence in rejection, imposition, and deformation, namely, by defying the State’s architecture of formation as well as their nativist, retrograde visions of Irish identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature