21.6 x 13.8 cm. xvi, 131 pp. + 16 pp illus. 1991
Ulster Editions & Monographs series (ISSN 0954-3392) volume 3
These essays comprise the first extensive re-appraisal of Charles Lever for over fifty years. Once regarded as the equal of Dickens, Thackeray and Trollope, Lever’s public turned their backs upon him when he changed style and genre after making his name with comic military tales. He never recaptured his early popularity, but his later novels in fact manifest a much more serious and crafted approach to fiction, and richly deserve revival.
Lever’s own turbulent and often unhappy life of social and cultural exile in Europe provides the hidden theme of many of his better novels. Continental and Irish settings and preoccupations are juxtaposed, making his contribution to the Anglo-Irish novel per se an unusual and challenging one.
Lever is a shrewd observer of character – particularly of female character; few of his better-remembered contemporaries write with more insight about women; old, young, rich, poor; loving, hating, dominating, subjected. His eye for place is acute; Scott is his model, but Lever’s ability to correlate character with environment is finely developed. His political observations, always well-integrated into the fabric of his plot, are shrewd and balanced.
The current neglect of this accomplished and cosmopolitan Irishman is entirely unwarranted. Though he wrote too much, too hastily, and under pressures sometimes too much dominated by the intransigent necessities of serial publication, the contributors to this volume seek to show that Lever deserves a re-appraisal, and a revival of attention to his extensive and often original output. Thus, hopefully, the revival of interest in Charles Lever, commencing with this volume, should attract readers of the novel well beyond the specialist range of Anglo-Irish scholars.
Introduction: 'The Famous Irish Lever'. Tony Bareham
'Reading Lever'. A. Norman Jeffares
'A Tale of Love and War: Charles O'Malley'. Lorna Reynolds
'Dr Lever at Portstewart'. Bill Rodgers
'Transitional States in Lever'. Richard Haslam
'Lever's Post-Famine Landscape'. Chris Morash
'Charles Lever and the Outsider'. Tony Bareham
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