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Eugene O'Neill's Irish "Con" Man: Charles Lever

Eugene O'Neill's Irish "Con" Man: Charles Lever <p>ABSTRACT:</p><p>In his late plays Eugene O&apos;Neill attends to forms of inheritance he received from growing up in a family of Irish origin. In 1946 he wrote that Irish heritage is the "thing that explains more than anything about me," and the odd syntax is telling. <i>A Touch of the Poet</i> has been interpreted as O&apos;Neill&apos;s take on his Irish émigré father James O&apos;Neill, an actor in the romantic tradition whose overcoming of class limitations required the devices of dramatic fiction and theatrical aggrandizement, but it also reveals the influence of a novel the young O&apos;Neill seems to have enjoyed along with his father. <i>Confessions of Con Cregan, the Irish Gil Blas</i> is an 1849 picaresque novel by Charles Lever, who centered his light-hearted novels on Irish characters. It contains features of characterization and plot that match elements in O&apos;Neill&apos;s play, suggesting direct influence. The self-reflective project of O&apos;Neill&apos;s late work reads differently in light of this intertextuality, which leads to the idea that he might have conceived his Irish identification not as a return home but ironically in terms of displacement into the transnational—an appropriate distancing given that he wrote these intimate plays far from home in the isolation of California. The pseudo-confessional aspect of Lever&apos;s novel suggests "other" ways of reading O&apos;Neill&apos;s sly sincerity.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Eugene O'Neill Review Penn State University Press

Eugene O&apos;Neill&apos;s Irish "Con" Man: Charles Lever

Eugene O'Neill Review , Volume 39 (1) – Apr 24, 2018

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University
ISSN
2161-4318

Abstract

<p>ABSTRACT:</p><p>In his late plays Eugene O&apos;Neill attends to forms of inheritance he received from growing up in a family of Irish origin. In 1946 he wrote that Irish heritage is the "thing that explains more than anything about me," and the odd syntax is telling. <i>A Touch of the Poet</i> has been interpreted as O&apos;Neill&apos;s take on his Irish émigré father James O&apos;Neill, an actor in the romantic tradition whose overcoming of class limitations required the devices of dramatic fiction and theatrical aggrandizement, but it also reveals the influence of a novel the young O&apos;Neill seems to have enjoyed along with his father. <i>Confessions of Con Cregan, the Irish Gil Blas</i> is an 1849 picaresque novel by Charles Lever, who centered his light-hearted novels on Irish characters. It contains features of characterization and plot that match elements in O&apos;Neill&apos;s play, suggesting direct influence. The self-reflective project of O&apos;Neill&apos;s late work reads differently in light of this intertextuality, which leads to the idea that he might have conceived his Irish identification not as a return home but ironically in terms of displacement into the transnational—an appropriate distancing given that he wrote these intimate plays far from home in the isolation of California. The pseudo-confessional aspect of Lever&apos;s novel suggests "other" ways of reading O&apos;Neill&apos;s sly sincerity.</p>

Journal

Eugene O'Neill ReviewPenn State University Press

Published: Apr 24, 2018

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