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John McGahern Biography

(1934–2006), The Barracks, The Dark, Nightlines, New Yorker, The Leavetaking, The Pornographer, Amongst Women, Collected Stories

dublin irish novel writer

Irish novelist and short-story writer, born in Dublin, educated at St Patrick's Training College, Dublin. He achieved immediate fame with his first book, The Barracks (1963), for its depiction of Irish rural life, its attention to detail, and its elegant prose, but The Dark (1965), with its uncompromising attitude to sex and its scabrous language, fell foul of the puritanical 1929 Censorship of Publications Act, and was banned in Ireland. The author was subsequently dismissed from his teaching post by the Archbishop of Dublin and went to Spain where for several years he lost his urge to write. In 1970 appeared a collection of stories, Nightlines, many of which were previously published in the New Yorker. His next novel, The Leavetaking (1974), was followed by The Pornographer (1979), in which a writer of pornographic fiction creates an ideal world of sex in his imagination while he mismanages his own entanglement with an older woman who has the misfortune to fall in love with him. Though located in the late twentieth century it is a timeless and strikingly unsentimental work. His novel Amongst Women (1990) is a poignant story of a moribund old man living with his second wife and three daughters in the Irish countryside and remembering his days of glory as a Republican fighter in the War of Independence. McGahern's sensitivity to the lives of ordinary people is evident throughout his harsh yet poetic Collected Stories (1992) in which everyday incidents both reveal and conceal emotion. A play, The Power of Darkness, was published in 1991.

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