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Afterwords: reparative queer death and the contemporary Irish novel, 1960-2000
Goodwin, Adrian A.
University College Cork
Given that an extant comprehensive study of homosexuality and the twentieth century Irish novel has yet to produced, this thesis is an attempt at rectifying such a gap in research by way of close textual analysis of writing from the latter half of the century—that is, from 1960-2000. Analysis of seven novels by four male authors – John Broderick, Desmond Hogan, Colm Tóibín and Keith Ridgway – lead to one overarching feature common to all four writers becoming clear: the homosexual or queer is always dying or already ‘dead’. ‘Dead’ is placed in inverted commas here as it is not only biological death that characterises the fate of gay men in the aforementioned literature. In the first instance, such men are also always already ‘dead’—that is, by light of their disenfranchisement as homosexual or queer, they are, in socialized terms, examples of the ‘living’ dead. Secondly, biological death neither fully obliterates the queer body nor its disruptive influence. Consequently, one of the overarching ways in which I read queer death in the late twentieth century Irish novel is through the prism of its reparative ‘afterw(a)ord’. On the one hand, such readings are temporally based (that is, reading from a point beyond the death of the protagonist - or their ‘afterward’); while, on the other hand, such readings are stylistically premised (that is, reading or interpreting the narrative itself as an ‘afterword’). The current project thus constitutes an original contribution to knowledge by establishing variant ways of reading the contemporary Irish novel from the point of view of the queer ‘unliving’. In assessing such heterogeneous aspects of contemporary queer death, the project a) contributes to recent, largely Anglo-American-based literary theoretical research on the queer and the eschatological, and b) provides a more contemporized literary base upon which future research can uncover a continuum of Irish queer writing in the twentieth century, one concerned with writing prior to 1960 and not limited to writing my men, in which death and same-sex desire are at parallel angles to one another.
Death , Reparative , 20th century Irish queer identity
Goodwin, A. A. 2014. Afterwords: reparative queer death and the contemporary Irish novel, 1960-2000. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.