John McGahern: The Dark

(922 words)

The Dark is an Irish Bildungsroman, a bleak account of the youth of a sensitive, intelligent adolescent, young Mahoney – his first name is never revealed – growing up on a small farm in Roscommon in the west of Ireland during the 1950s. The plot is shaped around the boy’s struggles with oppressive external and internal forces, notably his violently abusive father and his anguished sexual desires, which are set against his liberating dreams of becoming a priest or a scholar. As well as being an intimately realised account of a preternaturally religious mind wrestling with doubt and uncertainty in the repressive atmosphere of pre-Vatican II Ireland, the novel is a sombre, sustained meditation on the nature of choice. …

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Harte, Liam. "The Dark". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 March 2001
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]