Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Dublin. Capital of Ireland, in which the entire novel is set. Dublin’s slums offer a squalid backdrop to the criminal activities of the novel’s characters.

Dunboy lodging house

Dunboy lodging house. Dismal excuse for a flophouse where fugitive Frankie McPhillip meets his old comrade Gypo Nolan. Frankie, a member of a paramilitary organization, is wanted for the murder of a union organizer. The lodging house looms as an ugly monstrosity popular among Dublin’s criminal underground. The accommodations are spartan, and the residents emerge as a haggard collection of the unwashed and forlorn. Over a paltry meal, Nolan impulsively decides to inform on his friend and collect the ransom money.

McPhillip home

McPhillip home. Frankie’s family residence. To protect himself from the suspicion of having informed on his friend and to offer condolences, Nolan wanders over to the McPhillip home, and the walk becomes an expressionistic odyssey. A street which was once familiar becomes threatening, as if inhabited by monsters. Thus begins a pattern repeated throughout the novel: Landscape and setting alternate between predatory threat and calming retreat.

The house itself is a refreshing haven from the storm on the lanes and in Nolan’s head. It is the most respectable house on the street, with a parlor window, fresh curtains, spotless stairway, and polished brass railings. Photographs and ornaments decorate the rooms, the kitchen is spacious, and everything is immaculate except Nolan, who stands in motley high relief. In fact, except for the novel’s final setting, another associated with the McPhillips, this house represents the...

(The entire section is 705 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Donoghue, Denis. Preface to The Informer, by Liam O’Flaherty. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980. In this scholarly introduction to The Informer, the leading Irish literary critic of his generation discusses the historical and cultural conditions from which the novel emerged, as well as its place in the O’Flaherty canon. Also refers to O’Flaherty’s sense of language and to the novel’s genre.

Doyle, Paul A. Liam O’Flaherty. New York: Twayne, 1971. An introductory survey of the wide range of O’Flaherty’s writings. In the chapter devoted to The Informer, Doyle notes the novel’s methods of representing the atmosphere of a newly independent Ireland. Critical discussion focuses mainly on the novel’s characterization. Contains a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

O’Brien, James H. Liam O’Flaherty. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1973. A brief introductory survey that concentrates on O’Flaherty’s fiction, particularly his novels. Provides a biographical sketch, as well as a chronology and bibliography. Discussion of The Informer is included in a chapter devoted to O’Flaherty’s war novels and focuses on the work’s preoccupation with its protagonist.

Sheeran, Patrick F. The Novels of Liam O’Flaherty: A Study in Romantic Realism. Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1976. Contains valuable information about O’Flaherty’s cultural and personal background and its relevance to his major works. Also includes a detailed account of the genesis of The Informer and an analysis of its cinematic dimension.

Zneimer, John. The Literary Vision of Liam O’Flaherty. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1970. Remains the most systematic overview of O’Flaherty’s work. Focuses throughout on the darker side of O’Flaherty’s imagination and provides information on the complicated genesis of The Informer and on the author’s attitude to the novel. Critical analysis is largely devoted to the work’s psychological and spiritual dimensions.