Brian R. Dailey

University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

English


1994

Mentor: Margaret-Love Denman - Assistant Professor of English

The role of "The Hero" in the work of Shakespeare and John Irving

Often referred to as a modern day Charles Dickens, John Irving has risen from a career as an obscure academic writer, to a novelist of international acclaim after his best-selling book, The World According to Garp was released in 1979. His mastery of weaving detailed narratives and layering intricate plots allows for the development of truly unforgettable characters.

Since Garp's release, a substantial amount of research has been done on Irving and his writing. The primary focus of which has been the social themes that he includes in his books. His novels have dealt with issues such as religion, rape, incest, and abortion.

My research project explores the heroic ideal in Irving's novels. More importantly, how his heroes compare with those of Shakespeare. Through my research, I have come up with a character analysis that shows some common traits that Irving's heroes possess. My project will carry over into the next year where I will be doing extensive work on Shakespearean heroes. I will then be matching up the traits of both sets of heroes to show their similarities and differences. These findings will be presented in a longer manuscript when my project is completed.

One of the prevalent trademarks in Irving's novels is death. Filled with his dark sense of humor and talent for stretching the reader's bounds of reality, Irving creates scenes that are both outrageous and unique. John Irving's knack for writing about death is the focus of my presentation today.

 

1993

Mentor: Margaret-Love Denman, Assistant Professor of English

The Writing Process - Peelinq Off The Layers

My goal as a McNair Fellow was to learn new methods and techniques of both writing and researching fiction. My reading list contained both instructional texts and fictitious works by various authors. In addition to writing everyday, I read various works and identified key passages for discussion with my mentor. For example, John Irving and John Updike have two exceptionally efficient ways of telling a story, but their approaches differ greatly. By researching these and many other authors, my own style is becoming more known to me and improving my work tremendously.

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