Silent noise: A textual study of John McGahern's The Dark and a novel: Copybook
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The following submission represents the work of four years as a PhD Practice and Research student at NUIG in the department of English. The General Introduction describes the process from conception to application and execution of both larger sections. It engages with the advantages and obstacles which can emerge while practicing creative and critical work in tandem. The Critical Section applies a textual study to John McGahern’s second novel The Dark by utilising tools of narratology and stylistics. The technique of the work’s text is explored through the thematic frames of absence/presence. By treating the material in a narratological and stylistic frame of reference, the thesis argues for a move away from the privileged context approach to John McGahern’s body of work. The findings develop previous scholarship on The Dark by concluding that the ‘traumatised self’, and not the impediments of mother, father and the world, is the chief obstacle which ultimately ends the boy’s dream university career. This journey is particularly progressed by the transcension of boy beyond father, as I will discuss in the Critical Section. The Creative Section is a novel draft titled ‘Copybook’. It narrates the life of Tommy O’Toole from age 13 to 17 in the contemporary world as he tries to navigate adolescence in difficult domestic circumstances, in a broadly similar context to the protagonist of The Dark. The gifted artist descends into sophisticated juvenile crime as his mother fades in a nursing home and his wayward father becomes embroiled in a local robbery. The project draws the experience of adolescence through the filters of the theoretical and practical text and collectively illuminates the physical, mental and spiritual regulating factor of parental presence.
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