Liam O’Flaherty is a writer of diverse styles. There is a noticeable shift from violence to compassion in his short stories. His short stories are best described as light of which the surface is cold and shimmering, or an ocean which is so vast, profound and peaceful on the surface and is also not predictable. O’Flaherty presents the relationship between human and nature which in its most elemental state should not be prevented or spoiled by the artificiality of civilization. Earthiness, a kind of primitive force, exists as a fundamental aspect of the life and people, and becomes a thematic motif of his stories. Human beings should not be too far away from animal instincts but retain their close-to-nature characteristics so as to live in harmony with nature according to the law of Mother Earth. In this respect O’Flaherty’s work sometimes resembles that of D. H. Lawrence. His style is generally plain and direct and can be bitter. His stories show his vivid descriptions of animal life as well as a “natural power of empathy”. His stories mainly deal with the struggles of men and women in nature, and the survival of wildlife. O’Flaherty writes best when he does not attempt to impose a moral lesson on his stories but instead creates a faithful account of life and of universal human feelings. Frank O’Connor quotes George Russell as best describing O’Flaherty: “When O’Flaherty thinks, he’s a goose, when he feels, he’s a genius”.
Ann Wan-lih Chang, was born in Taipei and currently lives in Kaohsiung. She received her M.A. at the Queen’s University of Belfast in 1997 and her Ph.D. at the University of Ulster in 2006. Her major fields of study and research are contemporary Irish women’s writing, the short fiction genre, discourse of stereotypes and archetypes in literary texts. Currently she is the head of the Department of Applied English as well as the director of the Language Centre at Shih-chien University, Kaohsiung Campus.
Abbreviation of Story Collections
Prologue: The Artist and His Art
Chapter One: Art of Storytelling
Chapter Two: Motifs and Issues
Chapter Three: Spectrum of Short Narratives
Epilogue: The Unromantic Seanchaí
Appendix: Liam O’Flaherty: A Select Bibliography