“War was freedom, freedom from futures”: Brian Moore, Lucy Caldwell and the Belfast Blitz Bildungsroman

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Abstract

This article explores how two novels of the Belfast Blitz (1941), Brian Moore’s semi-autobiographical novel, The Emperor of Ice Cream (1965) and Lucy Caldwell’s These Days (2022), play with the expectations associated with the bildungsroman. Tracing the literary history of the genre in Ireland and elsewhere, and how these novels might fit into such a literary history, this article grapples with what the “future” might mean for the protagonists of these novels in a Belfast gripped by conflict: past, present and future. In teasing out the intertextual language of change used in both novels—intertexts drawn primarily from Irish poetry and, for Caldwell, to Moore’s own novel—it becomes clear that coming of age in the Northern statelet is a fraught process. By paying attention to the formal and thematic properties of these novels, I argue that ultimately both authors queer the bildungsroman as an allegory of individual, social, and national progress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-90
Number of pages26
JournalCanadian Journal of Irish Studies
Volume44
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2021

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