Added: August 5, 2017 – Last updated: August 5, 2017


Author: Constanza del Río

Title: Exorcising Personal Traumas / Silencing History

Subtitle: Jennifer Johnston's The Invisible Worm

Journal: Atlantis: Journal of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies

Volume: 39

Issue: 1

Year: June 2017 (Received: February 2, 2016, Revised version accepted: November 1, 2016)

Pages: 173-188

ISSN: 0210-6124 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1989-6840 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | European History: Irish History | Offenders: Fathers; Representations: Literary Texts / Jennifer Johnston; Types: Incestual Rape; Victims: Daughters, Trauma


Link: Atlantis (Free Access)


Author: Constanza Del Río Alvaro, Departamento de Filologia Inglesa y Alemana (Department of English and German Philology), Universidad de Zaragoza (University of Zaragoza) –

Abstract: »Jennifer Johnston’s novel The Invisible Worm (1991) is an exemplary trauma narrative, both stylistically and thematically. It centres on the consciousness of its protagonist—Laura—and narrates her painful and protracted psychological process of coming to terms with a past marked by repeated sexual abuse by her father, which culminates in rape, and her mother’s consequent suicide. Yet The Invisible Worm is also a contemporary example of the Irish Big House novel, a genre that articulates the identitarian, historical and social plights of the Anglo-Irish. My intention in this article is to consider how the narrative’s evident interest in the personal dimension of Laura’s traumas works to obviate the socio-historical and political elements that have also contributed to the protagonist’s predicament. I will also analyse the different treatment afforded to the individual and the collective past: while the novel is explicit and optimistic in the case of Laura’s personal story, it remains reluctant to speak out about historical evils, with the result that, at the end of the novel, although freed from her personal traumas, Laura remains the prisoner of her historical legacy.« (Source: Atlantis)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of Ireland / History of the Republic of Ireland | Literature: Irish literature | 20th-century Irish writers: Jennifer Johnston