Prospecting for Gold – A Year with the McGahern Papers

Jan 27 2017 Posted: 15:46 GMT

Public Lecture at NUI Galway on McGahern Literary Influences

NUI Galway’s Hardiman Library and Moore Institute will host a guest keynote lecture from Professor Frank Shovlin, Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool to mark the publication of a major new book on McGahern’s literary influences. The public lecture will take place on Thursday 2 February in the Moore Institute Seminar Room, NUI Galway at 4pm.

The lecture, entitled “Prospecting for Gold – a Year with the McGahern Papers”, will reveal the extent to which the McGahern Archive at NUI Galway influenced the writing of this book and the extent of literary influences in McGahern’s own work.

Touchstones: John McGahern’s Classical Style by Professor Shovlin examines the ways in which John McGahern became a writer through his reading. This reading, it is shown, was both extensive and intensive, and tended towards immersion in the classics. As such, new insights are provided into McGahern’s admiration and use of writers as diverse as Dante Alighieri, William Blake, James Joyce, Albert Camus and several others. Evidence for these claims is found both through close reading of McGahern’s published texts as well as unprecedented sleuthing in his extensive archive of papers held at NUI Galway.

Dr John Kenny, John McGahern Lecturer in Creative Writing at NUI Galway, who will launch Touchstones following the public lecture, emphasises the importance of this new study: “Frank Shovlin’s book is a milestone for new approaches in McGahern criticism – forensically immersed in our McGahern Archive, and attentive to the depths beneath the realist surface of McGahern’s published work, Touchstones demonstrates that layered reading can add formidably to the sheer enjoyment of the art of fiction.”

Frank Shovlin is Professor of Irish Literature in English and Head of Department, Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool and the author of Journey Westward: Joyce, Dubliners and the Literary Revival (LUP, 2012).


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