Young John McGahern by Denis Sampson

Young John McGahern

Denis Sampson
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Details

  • ISBN
    9780199641772 / 0199641773
  • Title Young John McGahern
  • Author Denis Sampson
  • Category Biography: Literary
  • Format
    Hardcover
  • Year 2012
  • Pages 208
  • Publisher
    Oxford University Press
  • Imprint Oxford University Press
  • Dimensions 137mm x 203mm x 22mm

Annotation

Denis Sampson explores John McGahern's discovery of art as a young man and traces the development of his signature vision and style. Sampson considers McGahern's early efforts as an apprentice novelist and weaves the inner story of the composition of his acclaimed first novel The Barracks into a narrative of imaginative formation.

Publisher Description

John McGahern was the most admired Irish novelist of the past fifty years. His accessible fiction won him a wide readership throughout Ireland, but the accomplishment of his craft ensured that he also became known as a writer's writer. He set his novels in places he knew intimately-Dublin, London, and the West of Ireland, where he grew up-and became known for the intimacy and honesty of his mapping of home truths of Irish life. His first novel, The Barracks, was widely hailed as a classic on publication in 1963, and his later work, including Amongst Women and That They May Face the Rising Sun, and, indeed, Memoir, is built on the stylistic foundation of that novel. The first ten years of McGahern's career were the crucial, for it was during this time that he became an artist. This book explores a young man's discovery of literature. McGahern's youthful realization that books provide both intense pleasure and a spiritual lifeline towards a unique kind of knowledge matured in his twenties. Struggling to overcome desolating experiences in childhood, and abandoning conventional beliefs, he found his anchor in European literary classics.
His discovery of how a powerful individual personality could be embedded in novels and stories inspired him. He became an impassioned reader of Proust, Tolstoy, and Flaubert as well as a select few local writers, the poet Patrick Kavanagh and the novelist Michael McLaverty, whose work more closely mirrored his own experience and aspirations. Denis Sampson recreates McGahern's personal and cultural circumstances in Dublin and London in the fifties and early sixties: his absorption of the lives and the work of classic writers; his shrewd observations of those he encountered; his definition of the kind of poetic writer he wished to become. He consider McGahern's first efforts as an apprentice novelist and weaves the inner story of the writing of The Barracks in 1960-62 into a narrative of his imaginative formation. This is an account of McGahern's triumphant emergence from what he called 'my years of training in the secret Dublin years'. In the decades that followed, whilst he experimented in styles and genres, the foundational aspects of his identity as a writer remained constant.

Review
[A] richly detailed literary biography, roughly spanning McGahern's entry into St Patrick's Training College, Dublin (for primary schoolteachers) in 1953 to the publication of The Barracks a decade later. Richard Robinson, English With this engaging biography, Sampson provides a valuable complement to McGahern's own Memoir... written at the end of his life. J.S. Baggett, CHOICE Scrupulously researched by Sampson, with the few gaps ably patched with extrapolations from the author's fiction, Young John McGahern is a serious study of a unique Irish talent's journey from naivety to novelist ... Sampson's intense little volume offers the closest thing that thus far exists to a biography of this beloved writer. For that alone he has earned our attention and our respect. Val Nolan, Irish Examiner informative, well-researched ... [an] absorbing compendium. Emer O'Kelly, Irish Sunday Independent Sampson's undoubted enthusiasm for his subject, which is expressed in an engaging style, allied to the Oxford University Press imprint, makes this a significant addition to McGahern scholarship. Eamon Maher, Irish Times Denis Sampson's new book is a timely reminder of why we should honour this fastidious chronicler of Irish society ... it offers engrossing correspondences between the life of the budding writer and the prose fiction into which his experiences were transmuted. Irish Independent [a] sensitive and subtle exploration of McGahern's upbringing The Scotsman Sampson is good on the array of literary influences that formed McGahern ... There is excellent use of footnotes and McGahern enthusiasts will rejoice in this addition to the critical scholarship on his work. Lorraine Courtney, The Sunday Times An illuminating study Patricia Craig, Times Literary Supplement Sampsons critical sophistication and sensitivity to influence and intertextual reference are unparalleled ... As an account of literary development, Young John McGahern is forensic in its attention to detail; in its focus on the secret Dublin years, it also places McGahern in a cultural context other than the remote parochialism of most familiar works. In this, it is a timely contribution to McGahern studies. Niamh Campbell, Irish Studies Review

Author Biography

After studying literature in University College, Dublin, Denis Sampson moved to Montreal, where he earned a Ph.D. at McGill University. He has lived and worked in Montreal since the 1970s but returns to spend part of each year in Ireland. He is the author of Outstaring Nature's Eye: The Fiction of John McGahern (1993) and Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist (1998). He also writes personal essays (memoir and travel), book reviews, and literary
features, broadcasts on the radio, and gives talks and public lectures.

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Young John McGahern

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