Representations of Catholicism in selected works by Colm Tóibín

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Pyburn, Daniel Christopher
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University College Cork
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The aim of this thesis is to provide an original and extensive study of Colm Tóibín as the “secular revisionist who acknowledges Catholicism as an enduring element of Irish society” (Ryan, Ireland and Scotland 251). Tóibín is uniquely placed to interpret many aspects of Ireland in the latter half of the twentieth century and I will argue that intertwined with his revisionism of Irish history is a reimagining of Ireland and Catholicism in fictive terms. An extensive amount of material from Tóibín’s time as a journalist and travel writer will feature in my research because it validates my argument concerning his prolonged engagement with Catholicism. Similarly, a broad range of Tóibín’s prose will be studied because it affords opportunities for an exploration of a literary Catholic oeuvre in his fiction. Therefore, I am emphasizing that a crucial linkage of Catholicism is identifiable throughout Tóibín’s diverse canon of work. However, I will argue that divergences of attitude and mode can be found in how Tóibín depicts Catholicism in his journalism and fiction. My argument identifies Tóibín’s recurrent journalistic questioning of the Church’s teaching and leadership but I classify a benignity towards Catholicism in his travel writing and fiction. Overall, Tóibín’s fiction merits significant status in this thesis because of the representations of Catholicism in the work of a writer who has been short-listed three times for The Booker Prize.
Representations , Catholicism , Colm Tóibín
Pyburn, D. C. 2014. Representations of Catholicism in selected works by Colm Tóibín. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.