Playing to Empty Pockets

Dispossession, desolation, and disaffection overtook the “native Irish” after their defeat by the English at Kinsale (1601), and literature in Gaelic went underground, as its audience shifted gradually from one end of the social scale to the other. The old noble Irish families, who were exiled or down-graded themselves, were …

Innocents

Eileen Hughes, in Brian Moore’s new novel (his thirteenth), is a Northern Irish shopgirl who is taken up by her employers. If she is also taken in, she has no one but herself to blame. There is something a little willful and perverse in Eileen’s innocence. When the rich McAuleys, …

The Power of the Unstated

Elizabeth Bowen developed early an acute vision of what the short story should, and should not, do. “Poetic tautness and clarity” she saw were essential ingredients, along with a single theme or mood which is pitched in a fairly high key. The story, with its brief span, cannot accommodate those …

Thin Ice

Since The Old Boys appeared in 1964, William Trevor has written seven novels and four collections of short stories. His first novel displayed a kind of mannered sedateness reminiscent of Ivy Compton-Burnett’s; since then, his natural precision and astringency have been tempered by a strain of informality, which often appears …