The fictive and the funerary: macabre and black humour in the contemporary Irish novel
Gefter Wondrich, Roberta
Death and the macabre have always been deeply entrenched in Irish culture: one of its most celebrated sons, Bram Stoker, has granted Ireland a central place in the Gothic literary tradition. The wake and the funeral have a prominent place into the Irish obsession with death and all its paraphernalia. In their book about Irish funerary tradition, Nina Witoszek and Patrick Sheeran state how those traditions are a mark of identity and might be seen as politically charged since the history of Ireland is one of a country divided by opposing loyalties and religious affiliations. Poetry has been regarded as one of the most effective vehicles for the transmission of death traditions in the rich Irish culture, and the modern and contemporary Irish poetry is a remarkable depository of death imagery. By recalling the distinction by Vivian Mercier, who identifies 'macabre' and 'grotesque' as two types of humour typical of the Irish comic tradition (along with the fantastic), the essay discusses the cultural and anthropological matrix of the Irish macabre through examples from contemporary Irish literature, focusing in particular on novels by Patrick McCabe and John Banville.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Roberta Gefter Wondrich, “The fictive and the funerary: macabre and black humour in the contemporary Irish novel", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, XV (2009), pp. 147-158