'Writing the Frontier' explores Trollope's relationship with Ireland, offering an in-depth exploration of his time there, contextualising his Irish novels and short stories and examining his ongoing interest in the country, its people, and its relationship with Britain
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Writing the Frontier: Anthony Trollope between Britain and Ireland is the first book-length study of the great Victorian novelist's relationship with Ireland, the country which became his second home and was the location of his first personal and professional success. It offers an in-depth exploration of Trollope's time in Ireland as a rising Post Office official, contextualising his considerable output of Irish novels and short stories and his ongoing
interest in the country, its people, and its always complicated relationship with Britain.
Trollope's Irish novels were long neglected but are vital to any understanding of his entire oeuvre and when given their just place alter our overall view of the writer and his take on the world. Uniquely among his fellow English novelists, Trollope consciously occupied a mediating position, believing he knew Ireland better than any other Englishman and better than most Irishmen and used his novels to represent that Ireland to an English public.
Trollope's Irish works constitute a vital and distinct group of works, add significantly to our vision of the writer, change the prevalent view that he is always safe and "English ", and represent a rich and underestimated contribution to the canon of the nineteenth century Irish novel tout court, complicating the sometimes arbitrary divisions that are drawn between the English and the Irish traditions.
In this otherwise illuminating Study, McCourt establishes Trollope's substantial contribution to nineteenth-century Irish fiction, and perceptively explores the ways in which an eminently "English" writer could also be "ambiguously, unstably, and sporadically quasi-Irish". The result is a map of the troubled frontier between Ireland and England in the latter half of the nineteenth-century from the perspective of a novelist who knew both sides better than most.
Camilla Cassidy, The Times Literary Supplement||The admirable work that McCourt has done ... provides an elegant rereading of Trollope as a participant observer whose twenty years of living in Ireland provided him with an experience of Irish culture unequalled by other canonical Victorian writers ... McCourt displays an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject ... a welcome addition to the canon of Trollope criticism: the first and much needed authoritative book-length study of the authors Irish writings.
Elsie B. Michie, Victorian Studies||It is not the least virtue of McCourts impeccably researched book that he manages to avoid the temptation of simply holding an ideological Geiger counter up to the works and declaring them radioactive and hence of no literary value. The literary critic in him sees the banality of such sociological reductionism.
Daragh Downes, Studies An Irish Quarterly Review||This book is an important contribution to current attempts to theorize and complicate previous dismissals of the nineteenth-century Irish novel. McCourt draws on a range of earlier critical work, sustains a dialogue with all previous critics who have looked at Trollopes Irish fiction, maintains a masterly control over every detail of the Irish fiction, and makes a very strong case that this body of work is a considerable, though flawed, achievement on Trollopes
part. On the basis of this very insightful and clear-thinking contribution to both Trollope Studies and Irish Studies, perhaps Trollopes contemporary relevance will be pursued further.
Jarlath Killeen, Notes and Queries||His book continues and, perhaps, crowns a historiographical tradition of writing about Trollope and Ireland, of which Owen Dudley Edwards and R.F. Foster are arguably the most important representatives ... McCourt's significant contribution to Trollope scholarship will thus be a standard in discussions about Trollope and Ireland in the years to come. Perhaps most importantly, it should once and for all force scholars to give Trollope's novels the prominent place in
the history of Irish literature that they deserve.
Frederik Van Dam, Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies||The picture of Trollope that emerges from McCourt's book may seem familiar at first sight, but the level of detail with which it is dealt with serves to upset many cherished beliefs, challenging ingrained prejudices about Trollope's Englishness as well as complicating recent claims about his progressive credentials. McCourt's significant contribution to Trollope scholarship will thus be a standard in discussions about Trollope and Ireland in the years to come.
Perhaps most importantly, it should once and for all force scholars to give Trollope's novels the prominent place in the history of Irish literature that they deserve.
Frederik Van Dam, Breac||McCourt gives us a fascinating re-reading of these scorned early novels ... highly persuasive ... [he] provides a fascinating exploration of a voice neglected in the canon of 19th century Irish writing because Trollope is an outsider. But his early books, especially, are the works of an outsider more familiar with daily life across the island than many of his Irish contemporaries were.
Dermot Bolger, Sunday Business Post||Writing the Frontier examines Irish-related fiction in Trollope's work and in doing so draws extensively on a wealth of research and commentary. His use of other texts is revelatory and highly enjoyable. ... The frontier of John McCourt's impressive book is not the border but the barrier preventing two nations from understanding one another, a frontier which, while he lived in Ireland and for many years afterwards, Trollope tried to penetrate.
Mary Leland, Irish Examiner||The first full-length book to analyse Trollope and Ireland. It will help to complete the re-evaluation of a writer who in his psychological amplitude should be placed with 19th-century masters such as Balzac.
Roy Foster, Irish Times.||This is an important new study: rich in insight and rigorous in argumentation; it is a clearly written, passionate and persuasive book that makes a familiar figure seem refreshingly strange-and relevant-once again.
Patrick Lonergan, Review of English Studies||McCourt has produced a captivating and valuable tool for the study of a part of Trollopes life and work that has hitherto been overlooked. In addition, he offers a particular and personalized look at Irish-English relations during the Victorian period through the eyes of a writer who lived on both sides of the sea. McCourt nicely balances literary criticism and historical context to present a clear picture of Trollope, Ireland, and the connection between the two.