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The Judas kissTreason and betrayal in six modern Irish novels$
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Gerry Smyth

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088537

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088537.001.0001

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‘Cangled both to treachery’

‘Cangled both to treachery’

Eugene McCabe’s Death and Nightingales (1992)

(p.157) 7 ‘Cangled both to treachery’
The Judas kiss

Gerry Smyth

Manchester University Press

A range of circumstances contrived to position Northern Ireland at the centre of Irish political history in the latter part of the twentieth century; those same circumstances ensured that the issue of betrayal would feature time and again as a crucial trope in discursive engagements with that part of the island. Eugene McCabe's novel represents one such engagement. Set on a farm on the shore of Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh in May 1883, Death and Nightingales is a story in which political betrayal is shadowed and to an extent mirrored by interpersonal treachery. This is a novel in which characters betray themselves and each other throughout; at the same time, each character is aware, to a greater or lesser extent, of inhabiting a political landscape in which the idea of betrayal – both historical and contemporary – features powerfully. One of the things Eugene McCabe looks to explore in this book (as indeed in all his writing) is the relationship between these two levels of experience.

Keywords:   Betrayal, Treason, Ulster, Nationalism, Violence, Murder

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