By Scott Boltwood
After approximately 5 many years as one in all Ireland's such a lot celebrated playwrights, Brian Friel has been the topic of ten books and dozens of articles. This research expands Friel feedback right into a giant physique of fabric and right into a more energizing interpretative path. in addition to contemplating Friel's newer performs, the ebook analyzes his interviews and essays to chart the author's ideological evolution all through a occupation of greater than 40 years. in addition, a bankruptcy is dedicated to his frequently missed articles for The Irish Press (1962-1963), a sequence that unearths unsuspected insights into Friel's disposition in the direction of the Irish Republic. Refining our figuring out of Friel's dating to Republicanism is principal to the argument; instead of assuming that the writer embraces nationalist ideology, the e-book relocates the conceptual issues of his paintings clear of Dublin and to 'The North', this bridge among eire and the British province of Northern eire.
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Additional info for Brian Friel, Ireland, and The North
This narrative’s assumed naivete´ only thinly disguises Friel’s cynicism towards the state of Catholic franchisement in Northern Ireland. After a generation of Unionist gerrymandering and belligerent electioneering, Friel lampoons a system that enabled the minority Protestant population of Derry with 10,000 adult voters to overrule a Catholic majority with twice the adult population (Bardon, Ulster, 638). Indeed, the Protestant legislative majority had consistently guaranteed that McAteer’s Foyle constituency contained a vast majority of Catholics so as to deprive them of influencing the outcome in Derry’s two other wards.
However, this disarming idyll describing his dream of a triumphal return to Donegal in a position of influence and affluence is an 27 BRIAN FRIEL, IRELAND, AND THE NORTH admission of his ultimate alienation from the Republic and psychological dependency upon the societal dynamics of oppression in Northern Ireland; unable to realize his nationalist aspiration of acceptance in the Republic, Brian’s nightmare betrays his fear that he is a collaborator with Ireland’s enemy. Indeed, rather than envisioning the Russians as the deus ex machina accomplishing Ireland’s unification, they suggest a nightmare expansion of and conflation with Northern Ireland’s oppressive regime, for they ‘‘purge’’ the area of its nationalists.
Similarly, the remainder of this chapter will be devoted to interrogating a selection of these articles with the goal of recovering and reconstructing a profile of Friel at the beginning of his dramatic career – not so much attempting to discern fact from fiction, but to construct a coherent interpretation for his narrative strategy. Although the broad spectrum of this material sheds light upon many aspects of his life and beliefs in the early 1960s, this chapter will explore Friel’s attempts to negotiate the multiple and mutually reenforcing psychological traumas of citizenship, for him, on the wrong side of the border in the north of Ireland, an area where he feels at once both native and alien.