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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Heather Blazing (1992) by Colm Tóibín.


Book Review
The Heather Blazing  (1992)
 by Colm Tóibín

  1992 might be the single busiest year for the 1001 Books Project- 16 titles.  To put that in perspective, the entire 18th century- 1700-1800- only has 53 entries on the list.   So in other words, the century that invented the novel has 50 listings, and 1992 has 16.   That is as clear as an example of "presentism," or favoring the present at the expense of the past, as you are likely to see in any canon forming exercise.  The first version of 1001 Books was published in 2006, meaning that 1992 was roughly 10 years before 1001 Books was put together, and 10 years prior is probably the point at which experts start losing confidence about their canonical picks.

  The major literary trends in 1992 are meta-fiction and regional fiction.   1992 had Irish fiction, Scottish Fiction, English Fiction, Spanish Fiction, American Fiction, African American Fiction, LGBT Fiction, French Fiction, German Fiction. A movie version is almost required.   The Heather Blazing represents one aspect of the growth of regional fiction- retelling the stories of privilege and inner turmoil which characterize English fiction in the early to mid 20th century, but from the perspective of non-English elites.  Here, the perspective is that of an Irish High Court Judge from a revolutionary Irish family.   The Heather Blazing is no doubt interesting and well written, but there can be no question that it's canonical status is based on it being about an IRISH High Court Judge.  

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