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The Dark par John McGahern

The Dark (original 1965; édition 2002)

par John McGahern

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McGahern's second novel is about adolescence and a guilty, yet uncontrollable sexuality.
Titre:The Dark
Auteurs:John McGahern
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2002), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Votre bibliothèque

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The Dark par John McGahern (1965)

  1. 00
    Les filles de la campagne par Edna O'Brien (Utilisateur anonyme)

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Again - so layered, so poignant. The character lends such innocence to his story and is yet bereft of the luxury that that should afford him. A careful and honest insight into a certain side of an Irish Catholic boyhood. McGahern approaches subjects and situations that are so human and everyday yet so hard to admit and acknowledge - he is brave in his truthfulness and it is expressed with such compassion. I imagine as I read, his lovely lilting voice and that kind, knowing tone. ( )
  Roisin800. | Sep 1, 2021 |
An ordinary life, an enclosed life, a life of servitude to family, to church a life of questionable morals, repressed sexuality, guilt, abuse that is The Dark by renowned Irish author John McGahern. Mahoney the father rules with a rod of iron and a belt of leather the story is told through the eyes of the eldest son in a harsh rural landscape where the only real arbiter is the Catholic church…..” In fear and shame you are moving to the death of having to describe the real face of your life to your God in his priest, and to beg forgiveness, and promise for there is still time.”.........” A priest could have no anguish, he’d given up happiness, his fixed life moving in the calm of certainty into its end, cursed by no earthly love or longing, all had been chosen years before”..... Lyrical, breathtaking, disturbing the story remains with you long after the final page. Highly recommended. ( )
  runner56 | Feb 28, 2021 |
Nothing makes me want to read a book more than hearing it was banned. I'm just perverse that way. Although I knew of the esteemed John McGahern, I had never heard of The Dark until I saw it on a banned book list last year. Not only was the novel banned in Ireland as "indecent and obscene", McGahern was fired from his job as a school teacher when it was published. And now I learn that the novel was highly autobiographical. In other words, McGahern was banned and fired for speaking up about his abusive childhood. Interesting.

The Dark is a bildungsroman about a young man in the rural Ireland of the 1950s. Like all good Irish stories, there is lots of pain. The protagonist is motherless, he suffers verbal, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his tyrannical father, and his future looks bleak. He has few opportunities, and thinks becoming a priest might be his only way off the farm. Throughout the novel, though, there is always hope.

A quarter of the way into the book I realized that McGahern was doing something unusual with his writing, and I went back to the beginning to study his craft. The prose is sparse, it's structured in short episodic pieces, and the narrative point of view shifts from chapter to chapter. I guess one could read the book as a straightforward story of Irish adolescence, however, it is more interesting when the reader pays attention to the complexities; there is a lot more there that will reward the careful and thoughtful reader.

Recommended for: If you write novels or want to write novels, The Dark is a must read as a study of technique. ( )
1 voter Nickelini | Dec 2, 2011 |
No first name is given for the narrator of “The Dark”, a young man in rural Ireland. He is known as “Mahoney”, the same as his father, with whom he has a most tortured relationship. Father and son love each other somehow – despite the emotional and physical abuse of the elder. The narrator is intelligent and studies hard –which his father is both proud and jealous of. His mother is dead and his sisters are background figures. Priests can’t be counted on as authority figures – even one that is also his cousin appears to have ulterior motives.

Mahoney in fact aspires to the priesthood, but as a world class masturbator, feels these “private orgies of abuse” would preclude him. His father’s dim view of the world colors the story, and the son’s view. He desperately wants to get away from his father yet seems to be afraid of doing so.

The themes of sexual abuse and the Irish Catholic view of sexuality resulted in the book being banned in Ireland after it was published in 1965. McGahern writes of rural Ireland beautifully, despite the dark tone, as when he describes “a funeral of little winter birds” following a line of black cattle. ( )
  Hagelstein | Sep 15, 2010 |
McGahern is a wonderful writer and one of my favourites; he shares with William Trevor the ability to explore the psychological complexity of individuals and relationships with nuance and deft strokes. This novel (which was banned in Ireland when it came out) focuses on a 16 year-old boy with an emotionally, physically and sexually abusive father, a poor farmer in rural Ireland. The boy (who is never named) is, at the same time, beset by his own sexual urgings as he matures, is torn on whether to become a priest, wins a scholarship to college which is a huge achievement in his village, but then is conflicted as to whether to accept that or a job immediately offered in the civil service. This is a novel about the powerful pulls and ties of family and the hunger for love and connection that can transcend cruelty. It is, at the same time, heartening because the boy does overcome the limitations of his circumstances through education, focus, and strength of character in standing up for what is right; in doing so, he opens up at least the possibility of a richer life. Wonderfully written
  John | Dec 19, 2009 |
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