Page 9 - September 2020
P. 9

LITTERATEUR


                    NOVEL AND ROMANCE IN THE WAR WITHOUT BATTLES OF J.G. FARREL













































          As  if   that   were   not   enough,   Archer   reads   the  newspapers   distractedly,   which   would   bring   him   back   to
          the   violent   reality   (to   the   novel):   the   Major   is   increasingly   tired   of   understanding   what   looks   like   a   war
          without battles and without trenches.
          In   the   end,   as   is   to   be   expected,   the   history   (the   Troubles)   has   the   upper   hand,   the   novel   prevails   over
          romance:  Archer  is  attacked,  wounded,  kidnapped  and  left  at  the  mercy  of  the  waves  (probably)  by  the

          Sinn  Feiners.  However,  Farrell  does  not  expect  the  man  of  the  Great  War  to  make  a  heroic  sacrifice  (as  a
          novel)   in   a   conflict   that   is,   after   all,   alien   to   him:   the   outcome   is   a   paradoxical   rescue   (the   providential
          intervention   of   some   elderly   hotel   guests).   As   for   the   Majestic,   it   collapses   not   because   of   obvious
          structural  problems:  it  is  the  old  Irish  butler  Murphy  who,  mad  or  perhaps  simply  drunk,  sets  fire  to  the
          building where he worked for so many years.
          The   whole   narrative   is   shrouded   in   nostalgia   for   the  British   belle   époque   and   its   irony   is   recurrent   and

          often   cruel;   the   extravagant   Spencer   family   represents   the   rich   Anglo-Irish   rulers   in   all   their
          anachronistic  privileges   in  a  collapsing   system.  Although   he   is   the  main   consciousness   of   The   Troubles,
          Major  Brendan   Archer,   traumatized   and   suffering,   remains   distant   from   the   reader.   The   subtle   sense   of
                                                                                                                is
          despair   and   resignation   at   the   end   of   the   imperial   grandeur   (the   enormous   crumbling   building)
          typical of Farrell's narrator.


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