The Green Book 1

by Brian J. Showers

"To my young fellow-countrymen, at home and in exile, in the cottage and the mansion, amidst the green fields and in the crowded cities, soon to be the men of Ireland, I dedicate this little book . . . "

– Alexander M. Sullivan,
The Story of Ireland (1883)

This journal's inception arose from a series of questions that I've long pondered and often asked others: Is there a tradition — a traceable pedigree or lineage of dialogue — in Irish fantastic literature? And if so, in what way might it be defined? How has it developed over the centuries? What are the connections, if any, between the writings of Charles Maturin and Elizabeth Bowen? Or Charlotte Riddell and Mervyn Wall? And what can be said of Irish literary sensibilities carried abroad in the writings of expatriate authors — and let's face it, there's a lot of them — as they encountered new ideas and cultures? Fitz-James O'Brien emigrated to New York where he joined the Bohemian set, Bram Stoker spent half of his life in England working for Sir Henry Irving, while Lafcadio Hearn ended up in Tokyo (by way of everywhere else). Is there an underlying gestalt — something between these lives and between their lines — that unifies these authors?

Maybe these are naοve questions. On the other hand, Ireland has made monolithic contributions to the fantastic genres, contributions the effects of which have resounded far beyond these shores — and indeed echoed back. Who can deny Maturin's final word on the Gothic with Melmoth the Wanderer? Or the effects that Stoker's Dracula had (and, good lord, still has!) on the horror genre? And what serious purveyor of fantasy isn't aware of Lord Dunsany's sublime novel The King of Elfland's Daughter? Certainly there's something here to talk about. The Green Book's mission is, I hope, a simple one: to provide a venue in which to explore the wider idea of the Irish gothic, supernatural, and fantastic in literature.

Naturally, the notion of "Irish" means a great many things to as many people; and so as with this modern nation of Ireland, I think we will best be served by a far-reaching definition of inclusion.

In this inaugural issue, Albert Power gives a back-bone to our (hopefully unanswerable!) question in part one of "Towards an Irish Gothic", what will no doubt be a landmark survey of the Irish fantastic; David Longhorn explores the supernatural theatre of Conor McPherson, while folklorist Jacqueline Simpson looks at the use of oral tradition in Le Fanu's Irish tales. Dan Studer examines the fantastic novels of innocence and experience of Belfast author Forrest Reid, and finally Michael Dirda extols the virtues of three overlooked Irish fantasists: Lord Dunsany, Mervyn Wall, and James Stephens — it is notable, perhaps, that even in Ireland the works of these three writers are disproportionately ignored; their titles scarcely available in Irish bookshops.

And so, I would like to welcome you to The Green Book, and invite you to join us in our explorations . . .

You can find The Green Book on Facebook here.


"Editor's Note"
    Brian J. Showers

"Towards an Irish Gothic: Part One"
    Albert Power

"Spirits of Another Sort:
The Supernatural Theatre of Conor McPherson"
    David Longhorn

"The Charm of Old Women's Tales:
Le Fanu's Use of Oral Tradition"
    Jacqueline Simpson

"Adventures of a Dream Child:
Forrest Reid's Tom Barber Trilogy"
    Dan Studer

"Four-Leaf Clovers"
    Michael Dirda

    Ciaran Foy's Citadel (Bernice M. Murphy)
    Derek John's The Aesthete Hagiographer (Rob Brown)
    Brian J. Showers's Old Albert (John Kenny)
    John Connolly's The Wrath of Angels (Bertrand Lucat)

"Notes on Contributors"

"Book Stalls"

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