Touchstones: John McGahern’s Classical Style

BookTouchstones: John McGahern’s Classical Style

Touchstones: John McGahern’s Classical Style

Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 68


November 11th, 2016

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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.


'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

Author Information

Frank Shovlin is Professor of Irish Literature in English at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool. He is the editor of The Letters of John McGahern (2021) and is working on McGahern's authorized biography.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover 1
Touching Stones11
1. We Other Clerks29
2. A Walking Mirror44
3. One Lone Paperback57
4. Magic68
5. Instinct86
6. The Fume of Muscatel97
7. Bohemian Rhapsody107
8. Absurdity124
9. Aristocracy133
10. The Consolations of Nothingness145
11. Deliberate Happiness159
12. Stranger in Paradise172