Publication details [#7778]

McFadden, Dennis W. 1999. A house divided: Strains in the modern Irish Big House novel. Indiana, Penn.. 189 pp.


This literary study attempts to prove that the modern Irish Big House novel is a synecdoche for a divided culture, a palimpsest that reenacts the central contradictions (colonist/colonized, Anglo-Irish/native, Protestant/Catholic) in Irish society and identity. In other words, the modern Big House novel allegorizes the tensions of the Irish past in order to explore present tensions. The study draws mainly on the theories of Edward Said, Albert Memmi, Frantz Fanon, Abdul JanMohammed, Terry Goldie, Robert Tracy, Robert Macdonald, Declan Kiberd, Seamus Deane, Julian Moynahan, and Vera Kreilkamp and applies their ideas to nine modern Big House novels: 'The Real Charlotte' and 'The Big House of Inver' by Edith Somerville and Martin Ross, 'The Last September' by Elizabeth Bowen, 'Langrishe, Go Down' by Aidan Higgins, 'The Gates', 'The Old Jest', and 'Fool's Sanctuary' by Jennifer Johnston, and 'Fools of Fortune' and' The Silence in the Garden' by William Trevor. The study traces the development of the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized in these novels from division in Somerville and Ross to dialectic in Bowen and Higgins to dialogics in Johnston and Trevor. (Dennis McFadden)