James T. Farrell Long Fiction Analysis
An understanding of James T. Farrell and his work on the basis of one novel, or even as many as three individual novels, is impossible. Farrell’s vision was panoramic, however limited his subject matter may have been, and cannot be understood except in terms of large, homogeneous blocks of fiction. He did not write exclusively of Chicago or of Irish Catholics, but it was on this home “turf” that he most effectively showed the effects of indifference and disintegration on an independent, stubborn, often ignorant, urban subculture. He was at once appalled by and attracted to the spectacle of an entire people being strangled by the city and by their own incapacity to understand their position, and he was most successful when he embodied the society in the life and times of an archetypal individual.
Farrell’s three major, complete works total eleven novels; each of the eleven creates another panel in the same essential experience. While the Studs Lonigan trilogy, the five novels of the O’Neill-O’Flaherty series, and the Bernard Carr trilogy have different protagonists, they all share a common impulse and reflect Farrell’s almost fanatical obsession with time, society, and the individual’s response to both. Studs Lonigan, Danny O’Neill, and Bernard Carr are extensions or facets of Farrell’s primal character, pitted against a hostile urban environment.
Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy
The Studs Lonigan trilogy,...
(The entire section is 1983 words.)
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