Admirers of Brian Friel’s drama will ﬁnd in these Selected Stories (‘Foundry House’ and ‘The Diviner’) preﬁgurations of some of his greatest plays (Aristocrats and Faith Healer) while one of the three stories that enlarge this edition, narrating a boy’s journey to stay with his five maiden aunts, reveals the seed from which Dancing at Lughnasa blossomed. It is clear that the playwright’s ﬁctions first found expression in the short story form.
Each of these stories is set in the north west of Ireland and deals with the everyday faiths and hopes which help their characters to survive. In many of them there is makebelieve and illusion, the necessary self-deceptions which enhance memory. In all of them there is humour, resilience and dignity. They are told with the sureness and tact of a master.
‘Friel’s plays have overshadowed his short stories for years and their relationship is more often than not simplified or dismissed. It is time now to reorient them not only in their distinctive historical and audience contexts but also in a more comprehensive and nuanced correlation that uncovers their contradictions, discrepancies, or gaps underneath their surface similarities. Only in this way can we understand Friel’s works as cultural and historical products and view his growth as a writer accordingly.’— Chu He, Estudios Irlandeses