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Writing Modern Ireland$
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Catherine E Paul

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082693

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082693.001.0001

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date: 20 July 2018

Flesh and Bones: Anne Enright’s The Gathering

Flesh and Bones: Anne Enright’s The Gathering

(p.81) Flesh and Bones: Anne Enright’s The Gathering
Writing Modern Ireland

Margaret Mills Harper

Liverpool University Press

This essay examines the dramatization of childhood sexual trauma in Anne Enright's 2007 novel The Gathering. At the heart of The Gathering are questions about sexual abuse that may have occurred when the first-person narrator and her brother were children, along with a family's collusion with powerlessness. The novel dramatizes a situation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), using a narrator in contemporary time to bring into language a prelinguistic experience buried in her past. The essay focuses on The Gathering's “obsessive writing and rewriting,” as well as the relationships between bodily memory and attempts at verbalization that characterize the narrator's voice. It also explores how the novel negotiates trauma, collusion and forgetfulness, along with its insistence on the interconnectedness of hilarity, rage and pain—all of which reflect not only of a single family's history but that of a nation as well. In particular, it links Ireland's history that forms the backdrop for The Gathering to issues that affected the lives of women, children, and men in their individual, domestic lives.

Keywords:   trauma, Anne Enright, The Gathering, sexual abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, collusion, forgetfulness, family, Ireland, powerlessness

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