John McGahern, Amongst Women (1990)

Some Extracts

[ A full-text version of the novel is held under password in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics” - via index or attached. ]

In a cold fury he stood and sat about for a long time within, twice changing from chair to chair. After years he had lost his oldest and best friend but in a way he had always despised friendship; families were what mattered, more particularly that larger version of himself - his family; and while seated in the same scheming fury he saw each individual member gradually slipping away out of his reach. Yes, they would eventrually all go. He would be alone. That he could not stand. He saw with bitter lucidity that he would marry Rose Brady now. As with so many things, no sooner had he taken the idea to himself than he began to resent it passionately. (p.22.)

When they entered the house one of the brothers [Rose’s] reached for the bottle of whiskey and poured four large glasses for the first time that day. They were very close family but in the years to come no gathering or wedding, not even simply gatherings, was ever held in any one of their houses. They went to the big hotels as if determined never again to experience anything like this house wedding in their mortal lives. Neither Rose nor Moran ever attended any of the gatherings. They were never invited. They would not have gone if they were. (p.45.)

[The girls depart for London.] After Rose and the boy had gone to bed he [Moran] sat on his own by the rakd fire, sitting motionless, staring down at the floor. When he did get up to go to the room he looked like someone who had lost the train of thought he had set out on and had emptied himself into blankness, aware only that he was still somehow present.’ (p.91.)

[Michael] was as tall at fifteen as he would every be and though he would never have Moran’s dramatic good looks he was handsome. After his sisters left, he discovered that he was attractive to women but it was to older women he was drawn. From Moran he had inherited a certain contempt for women as well as a dependence on them but it did not diminish his winning ways. The one drawback was his [91] lack of noey. To go about with young women he needed money and Moran would not part with any. (pp.91-92.)

[Michael’s affair with Nell Morahan, a returnee from America, pp.103ff.)

They were so bound together by the illness [Moran’s cancer] that they felt they could force their beloved to remain in life if only they could, together, turn his will around. Since they had the power of birth there was no reason why they couldn’t will this life free from death. For the first time in his life Moran began to fear. [...] All they felt he had to do was to turn his life over to them and they would will him back to health again. He ahd never in all his life bowed in anything to a mere Other. Now he wanted to escape, to escape thehouse, the room, their insistence that he get better, his illness. The frist time he went missing there was panic. They searched the bathroom, all the other rooms, and when they reached the stone hallway they saw the front door was open.
  The found him leaning in exhaustion on a wooden post at the back of the house, staring into the emptiness of the meadow. He did not speak as they led him back to the house. They thought it was a wayward fit of delinquency to test their vigilance. They watched him more closely after that but there were times when he slipped out to the fields in spite of their care and always in the same direction. Past the old pear tree in brilliant white blossom against the wall, last year’s nettles withered and tangled in the abandonded mowing machine beneath the tree, the corrugated roof of the lean-to he had built [176] as a worshop for wet days, and on to the meadow. It wsa no longer empty but filling with fresh growth, a faint blue tinge on all this again. It would live in others’ eyes but not in his. He had never realized when he was in the midst of confident life what an amazing glory he was part of. He heard his name being called frantically. He stopped stubbornly before the door “I never knew how hard it is to die,” he said simply.
 One day a priest came to the house [...] (178-79.)

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