John McGahern Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

After the publication of his first novel, The Barracks (1963), John McGahern encountered trouble with the Catholic Church and the Irish Censorship Board because of his second novel, The Dark (1965); as a result of these experiences, McGahern decided to fictionalize the loss of his teaching job in The Leavetaking (1974, revised 1984) and parody the problems of writing about sex in The Pornographer (1979). Amongst Women (1990) is his most highly praised novel.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

John McGahern’s first novel, The Barracks, was the first prose work to win the A. A. Memorial Award in Ireland, and he was awarded the Arts Council Macauley Fellowship for the work as well. Amongst Women, an international success, won the Aer Lingus Prize, was a finalist for the Booker McConnell Prize in 1990, was a best-seller in Ireland, and brought him wide recognition.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Banville, John. “Big News from Small Worlds.” The New York Review of Books 40 (April 8, 1993): 22-24. In this extended review of McGahern’s The Collected Stories, fellow novelist Banville discusses a characteristic often criticized in the stories—their floating quality, resulting from the fact that they take place in no discernible place or time period.

Bradbury, Nicola. “High Ground.” In Re-reading the Short Story, edited by Clare Hanson. New York: Macmillan, 1989. Discusses “Parachutes” and “High Ground” as works that embody the short story’s technique of being both involved and objectively distant at once; briefly discusses the historical and geographical contexts of McGahern’s stories.

Brown, Terence. “John McGahern’s Nightlines: Tone, Technique, and Symbol.” In The Irish Short Story, edited by Patrick Rafroidi and Terence Brown. London: Colin, Smythe, 1979. Discusses McGahern’s use of the Irish storytelling mode; argues that he tries to exploit symbolist possibilities in physical properties without resorting to the traditional symbols of church and religion.

Brown, Terence. “Redeeming the Time: The Novels of John McGahern and John Banville.” In The British and Irish Novel Since 1960, edited by James Acheson. New York: St. Martin’s Press,...

(The entire section is 470 words.)