Short Story Cycles

Narrating the Community: The Short Story Cycles of Val Mulkerns and Mary Beckett

From the introduction:

The opening essay by Elke D’hoker raises our awareness of an Irish genre tradition that has received surprisingly little attention: the short story cycle. While the short story – characterised by Declan Kiberd as “the natural result of a fusion between the ancient form of the [orally transmitted] folk tale and the preoccupations of [a textually sophisticated] modern literature” (42) – is widely held to be “the prose form best suit-ed to articulating the Irish experience of becoming, along with the provisional nature of modern Irish culture” (Hand 3), the short story cycle “as a narrative form with distinct interests, patterns and characteristics” (D’hoker, below p. 17) has yet to be discovered. D’hoker’s essay makes a significant contribution to this discovery. It out-lines a brief history of the Irish short story cycle, introduces the main features of this neglected genre and reflects on potential aesthetic and community building functions of a narrative form that invariably juxtaposes the singular and the plural while striving to establish unity through fragments. In addition, the author’s careful analyses of the interaction of plot and character as well as narrative space and time in Val Mulkerns’s Antiquities (1978) and Mary Beckett’s A Literary Woman (1990) provide two case studies that demonstrate how two short story cycles draw on a Dublin setting to negotiate various aspects of the interaction among individual, family and national identity constructions.

source: D’Hoker, Elke (2016): “Narrating the Community: The Short Story Cycles of Val Mulkerns and Mary Beckett” in Irish Studies in Europe, vol. 7.


Note: This is an edition of the journal with many different essays. This essay is the first.


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