Famine Roads and Big House Ghosts: History and Form in John Banville’s The Infinities


  • Cody D Jarman University of Texas




Gothic, Famine, Big House, John Banville, Emily Lawless


This article considers John Banville’s engagement with memories of the Irish Famine and the conventions of the Irish Gothic and Big House novel in his 2009 novel The Infinities by comparing his approach to these topics to that of Emily Lawless in her considerably earlier 1897 collection Traits and Confidences. I argue that Banville’s engagement with the history of the Irish Famine and the conventions of the Irish Gothic and Big House novel are not incidental to the novel’s exploration of the problem of identity and the idea of the self but, rather, are fundamental to its thematic investments. Furthermore, I suggest that the novel’s experimental form fits into Irish literary tradition as Banville’s novel develops questions of identity, form, and content central to Lawless’s text.

Author Biography

Cody D Jarman, University of Texas

Cody D. Jarman is a PhD student in English literature at the University of Texas at Austin where he teaches in the department of Rhetoric and Writing and serves as an Assistant Program Coordinator at the University Writing Center. Cody studies Irish literature in the context of global modernism and holds an MA in Irish Writing and Film from University College Cork, which he received while studying on a Fulbright fellowship in 2016-17.


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How to Cite

Jarman, C. D. (2021). Famine Roads and Big House Ghosts: History and Form in John Banville’s The Infinities. ABEI Journal, 22(1), 85-95. https://doi.org/10.37389/abei.v22i1.3850