John McGahern’s stylistic and narratological art

Beatrix Busse, Daniel McIntyre, Nina Norgaard, Michael Toolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Irish writer John McGahern is acknowledged as a master stylist in both his novels and his short stories. In this article we discuss the stylistic and narratological factors that contribute to the artistry in McGahern’s short story writing. We analyse three stories: “A Slip-up”, “All Sorts of Impossible Things”, and “Creatures of the Earth”, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The stylistic devices that we concentrate on are speech and thought presentation, negative polarity, lexico-semantic foregrounding, prospection and projection, collocation and semantic prosody, and keyness. We argue that by analysing these devices it is possible to gain an insight into the way in which McGahern draws the reader into his stories and generates empathetic responses to his characters. Consequently, these stylistic techniques may be seen as integral to McGahern’s style as a writer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-131
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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