Touchstones 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 the National University of Ireland, Galway. The ultimate intention of the book is to draw attention to the very literary and writerly nature of McGahern as an artist, and to place him, not just as a great Irish writer, but as part of a long and venerable European tradition.
Reviews'Well-organized, well-written, passionate when needed, and intensely readable... I was thrilled to find so much that is new in Shovlin’s study.'
Eamonn Wall, Smurfit-Stone Professor of Irish Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis
'Frank Shovlin elegantly and insightfully weaves a tapestry of allusions and linkages around [McGahern's] work.'
Ruth Gilligan, Times Literary Supplement
'This is a smart, convincing, and approachable study. ... Frank Shovlin’s Touchstones gives abundant insights into how this art came about and as such makes for an ideal introduction to the various influences and precedents at play in John McGahern’s impressive fictional world.'
Gerald Dawe, Irish University Review