1st Edition

Reading Paul Howard The Art of Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

By Eugene O'Brien Copyright 2024

    Reading Paul Howard: The Art of Ross O’Carroll Kelly offers a thorough examination of narrative devices, satirical modes, cultural context and humour in Howard’s texts.

    The volume argues that his academic critical neglect is due to a classic bifurcation in Irish Studies between high and popular culture, and it will use the thought of Pierre Bourdieu, Sigmund Freud, Mikhail Bakhtin and Jacques Derrida to critique this division, building a theoretical platform from which to examine the significance of Howard’s work as an Irish comic and satirical writer. Addressing both the style and the substance of his work, this text locates him in a tradition of Irish satirical writing that dates back to the Gaelic bards, and it includes writers like Swift, Wilde, Flann O’Brien and Joyce. Through textual and contextual analysis, this book makes the case for Howard as a significant and original voice in Irish writing, whose fusion of the three traditional types of satire (Horatian, Juvenalian and Menippean) has created a parallel Ireland that shines a satirical light on its real counterpart. As Freud suggests, humour is a way of accessing aspects of the psyche that normative discourses cannot enunciate, and Howard, through the confessional voice of Ross, offers a fictive truth on 20 years of Irish society, a truth that is not accessed by discourse in the public sphere or by what could be termed literary or high cultural fiction.

    Introduction: Towards an Evaluation of Paul Howard  1. Seeing Ireland Differently: The Theoretical Lens  2. Ireland’s Satirical Tradition and Howard’s Place in it  3. The Best Years of Our Lives – School and College  4. Married in the Celtic Tiger  5. States of Denial  6. From Prosperity to Austerity  7. Bouncing Back  8. Ross Grows Up (?)  9. A Family Man


    Eugene O’Brien is Professor of English Literature and Theory, and Head of the Department of English Language and Literature in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. He is the editor for the Oxford University Press Online Bibliography project in literary theory and of the Routledge Studies in Irish Literature series.