Vol. 28 No. 2 (2022)
Screen Writing the Border: Eugene McCabe, RTÉ, and the Victims Trilogy
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Copyright (c) 2022 Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies
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This essay explores the images and settings of the border narratives in Eugene McCabe’s television screenplays for his Victims trilogy, a three-part series broadcast by RTÉ in 1976. The series was based on McCabe’s own short stories, “Cancer,” “Heritage,” and “Victims”—which became known as the “Fermanagh trilogy”—written separately in the 1970s but published collectively as Christ in the Fields (1993). The essay argues that living on and writing out of his borderlands farm, near Clones, Co. Monaghan, McCabe experienced a condition that I term “borderliness,” which is structured into his writing about this area and the region more widely. I identify this condition by the presence of four thematic tropes that echo and interlace with each other across his screenplays. Making use of archival research in RTÉ, the essay analyzes draft script and screen realization, and supporting production material, focusing on the central, pivotal episode, Heritage, before it reaches its conclusion by drawing on adaptation theory and the conceit of the palimpsest to compare the screenplay and prose fiction versions. (LP)