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ultimately designed to destroy the Anglo-Irish Agreement and, “keep the pot of Northern Ireland discord boiling” (121). While some groups and individuals do view their involvement in terms of these objectives, McCarthy fails to appreciate that many are motivated by a genuine desire to redress persistent employment discrimination in Northern Ireland. The author similarly gives inadequate consideration to concern over allegations of British human rights abuses, particularly the evidence of a shoot-to-kill policy, as a factor generating Irish-American activism. McCarthy’s newspaper columns were written over a period of ten years, so his views on a variety of issues are repeated several times throughout the book. This can be quite tedious for the reader and could have been avoided by a more selective choice of essays. There is neither documentation nor reference to source materials . Consequently, while Dissent from Irish America is useful for its presentation of “dissenting” viewpoints from “organized Irish America,” it will be of prime interest to the general reader rather the scholarly historian. — Andrew J. Wilson Kerry Playwright: Sense of Place in the Plays of John B. Keane, by Sister Mary Hubert Kealy, pp. 137, Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press, 1993, $29.50. In early 1993, audiences at the Huston International Film Festival raved over the film adaptation of John B. Keane’s play, The Field. The most frequent praise was given to the characterization of Bull McCabe, the outspoken, strong-willed protagonist . Many reviewers felt that McCabe captured the true sense of the rural Irish farmer’s devotion and commitment to the land. Keane’s ability to accurately and intimately portray rural Ireland is the precise focus of Sister Mary Hubert Kealy’s new book. In Kerry Playwright: Sense of Place in the Plays of John B. Keane, Kealy attempts to reclaim Keane’s dramatic works for scholarly consideration. Keane has lacked the recognition of the traditional theatre establishment in Ireland having, for example , for most of his early career been left out of the repertoire of the Abbey Theatre . Kealy argues that this neglect stems from Keane’s concern with the problems of the individual in Irish society, particularly rural Irish society as opposed to the problems of the nation as a whole, and also because he runs counter to Abbey tradition by his refusal to romanticize the rural Irish. Kealy suggests that it is precisely because of these shifts that Keane’s plays warrant scholarly consideration. By examining setting, characterization, and the use of such stage devices as folk motifs, music, dance, and props, one may develop a sense of the spirit of place which informs Keane’s plays, working both as a context for the action of the play and a context for interpreting the play as social criticism. BOOK REVIEWS 187 Answering critics who claim that Keane’s plays—including Sive, Big Maggie, The Year of the Hiker, and The Field—are “regional,” and therefore not worthy of “serious consideration,” Kealy contends that the plays are regional in the best sense: they capture the essence of twentieth-century North Kerry, making the audience both nostalgic for what has passed and painfully aware of the often terrible social conditions that produced Keane’s characters and situations. Kealy also argues that widespread critical acclaim has eluded Keane for two main reasons: urban critics have no real understanding of life in rural settings, so they “misread” Keane’s plays; and Keane’s plays lack political edge and nationalistic drive. Kealy begins Kerry Playwright with a brief biographical sketch of Keane, drawing connections between his personal experiences and elements of his plays, and then moves on to a discussion of the traditions out of which Keane writes, one tradition emphasizes the use of place as an essential guidepost to interpretation, and is not limited only to Irish plays. Through Kealy’s analysis of place in such wellknown plays as Ibsen’s Ghosts and Strindberg’s Miss Julie, the reader who may be less familiar with Keane’s works, gains a greater understanding of place as “meaning -maker.” The other tradition in which Keane’s plays fall is that of stage representations of the Irish. Kealy investigates this are thoroughly, tracing the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1550-5162
Print ISSN
0013-2683
Pages
pp. 187-189
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-31
Open Access
No
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