Gerard Donovan's Young Irelanders : Looking for Home in the New Ireland

Abstract : This article examines Gerard Donovan's representation of the new Ireland in his 2008 collection of short stories Young Irelanders. Spanning the past decade, Donovan's stories chronicle the strangeness of life in a country both familiar and utterly changed, as his characters' nostalgic introspection enhances the ironic contrast between the new landscape of a booming Ireland and their painful awareness of the fleeting nature of time (``Country of the Grand''; ``How Long Until''). On the eve of the 2008 collapse, the new Ireland is a disillusioned avatar of hypermodernity. It is marked by a lost sense of place; cars have replaced the bicycles of former times as a symbol of Irish life, but they have also ushered a radically changed perception of the self in relation to the once familiar landscape of childhood memories and family life (``By Irish Nights'', ``Another Life''). America looms large in Donovan's evocation of lost souls on the road, driving aimlessly in search of an unattainable inner peace (``Harry Dietz'', ``Shoplifting in the USA''). Donovan's Irelanders are also lost in time: their present reality eludes them as they delve into childhood memories or strive to regain a sense of collective past (``The Summer of Birds''; ``Archaeologists''). The characters' perception of the outside world, mediated by the artefacts of modern life, further enhances their isolation from other people and from their own former selves. Donovan's elliptic narratives focus on metonymic details to paint a fragmented portrait of the private and public spaces of the new Ireland, and to raise the question of memory and identity against a background of building sites mushrooming like so many question marks.
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Flore Coulouma. Gerard Donovan's Young Irelanders : Looking for Home in the New Ireland. Etudes Irlandaises, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016, 40 (1), pp.127--142. ⟨10.4000/etudesirlandaises.4848⟩. ⟨hal-01640384⟩

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