Dr Catriona Ryan reviewed by Litteraria Pragensia.

Graduate Centre blocks thin

Dr Catriona Ryan, a graduate of the English Department of Swansea University, has recently had her book Border States in the Work of Tom Mac Intyre: A Paleo-Postmodern Perspective (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), reviewed by Litteraria Pragensia.   This work analyses the prose and drama of the Irish writer Tom Mac Intyre and the concept of paleo-postmodernism. It examines how Mac Intyre balances traditional themes with experimentation, which in the Irish literary canon is unusual. This book argues that Mac Intyre’s position in the Irish literary canon is an idiosyncratic one in that he combines two contrary aspects of Irish literature: between what Beckett terms as the Yeatsian ‘antiquarians’ who valorize the ‘Victorian Gael’ and the ‘others’ whose aesthetic involves a European-influenced ‘breakdown of the object’ which is associated with Beckett. Mac Intyre’s experimentation involves a breakdown of the object in order to uncover an unconscious Irish mythological and linguistic space in language. His approach to language experimentation is Yeatsian and this is what the author terms as ‘paleo-postmodern.’ Thus the project considers how Mac Intyre incorporates Yeatsian revivalism with postmodern deconstruction in his drama and short stories.

See below for some highlights from the review, written by Professor Willy Maley (Glasgow University):

 ‘Catriona Ryan’s book-length study of Mac Intyre, ‘a bilingual writer of verse, prose and drama (4), is a pioneering work of criticism that sets out to bring a marginalized and minor literary literary figure into the prominence that his prolific output merits.  Through rigorous analysis of the drama and prose, including a fascinating chapter on his adaptation of Patrick Kavanagh’s The Great Hunger, Ryan shows that Mac Intyre is an important link, and arguably a more obvious bridge, from Yeats and Kavanagh into the present, than say Seamus Heaney…’

‘Ryan’s discussion around form, gender, language, nation and religion are clever and complex and argued throughout in a lively and lucid manner…’

‘Ryan’s deployment of the term ‘paleo-postmodernism’ serves to crystallise her view of Mac Intyre ‘at the crossroads between two worlds…’

’Catriona Ryan has more than achieved what she set out to do. She has emphatically presented Tom Mac Intyre as a writer with a distinctive voice who not only provides a crucial link in the chain that goes back through Kavanagh to Yeats, but as a bridging figure, a transgressive author whose reflections on the Irish literary scene, and on writing more generally, have much to tell us about the ways in which constrictive critical currents can cut off living literary streams. It is clear from Catriona Ryan's painstaking excavation that Mac Intyre has been wrongly neglected. Her thoughtful and perceptive critical intervention will remedy that wrong.'