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This article foregrounds representations of ageing and memory within Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels, particularly Never Let Me Go (2005) and, the less critically considered, The Buried Giant (2015). While criticism and reviews touch upon themes of ageing, loneliness, and loss of bodily function, scholars are yet to reveal either the centrality of this to Ishiguro’s work or how this might speak to real-life questions surrounding ageing. Few readers of Never Let Me Go realise that in writing it Ishiguro’s guiding question was ‘how can I get young people to go through the experience of old people’? The arguments here seek to restore such authorly intentions to prominence.
Ishiguro is more interested in socio-cultural meanings of ageing than biologically impoverished memories: this article examines the shifting relationships Ishiguro presents between memory and age as regards what happens to the ways in which memories are valued, and how people might be valuable (or not) for their memories. Interdisciplinary with age studies and social gerontology, this article demonstrates how Ishiguro both contributes to, and contends with, socially constructed concepts of ageing. In refocusing Ishiguro criticism onto reminiscence rather than nostalgia, this article aims to put ageing firmly on the agenda of future research.
Current explorations of migration in fiction focus on innovative perspectives, linking memory and trauma with the concepts of exile and conflict. Personal memories ask for an understanding of what belonging and identity represent for the Irish; immigration has hybrid and fertile links to memory studies, psychology and psychoanalysis (Akhtar), making the immigrant both love and hate his new territory, while returning to the past or homeland to reflect and regain emotional balance. From the focus on ‘the sexy foreigner’ (Beltsiou), we rely on the idea of crisis discussed by León Grinberg and Rebeca Grinberg, Frank Summers’ examination of identity, the place of the modern polis and the variations of the narrative (Phillips), the trans-generational factor (Fitzgerald and Lambkin), the departure seen as an exile (Murray and Said) and the impact of guilt (Wills).
Such views support an analysis of McGahern’s writing which works as a blend of memories and imagination, the writer highlighting dilemmas, success and failure as ongoing human threads. They are as diverse as the people met by the novelist in his youth, many of them being workers, nurses, entrepreneurs, teachers and writers, both young immigrants in search of a better life and migrants returning to spend their retirement or holidays home.
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---. “Robert Brady’s Intellectual History and Royalist Antipopery in Restoration
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