Donald E. Morse, University Professor of American, Irish, and English literature, University of Debrecen and Emeritus Professor of English and Rhetoric, Oakland University, Michigan, has been Fulbright Professor (1987-89, 1991-93) and Soros Professor (1990, 1996-97). He is the author or editor of 16 books including The Irish Theatre in Transition (Palgrave 2015), The Artistry of Brian Friel (2006, with Csilla Bertha and Mária Kurdi), Anatomy of Science Fiction (2006), and The Novels of Kurt Vonnegut (Praeger 2003). With Bertha he received Rockefeller Study and Durrell School Fellowships to translate contemporary Hungarian plays into English (Silenced Voices: Hungarian Plays from Transylvania 2008). For over 30 years he has chaired the annual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts and for over 25 years hosted “Bloomsday in Detroit.” In 1999 the University of Debrecen awarded him an Honorary Doctorate and in 2007 he received the László Országh Prize. He has also been the recipient of two festschrifts.
Chris Lee’s The Map Maker’s Sorrow (1999), produced at the Abbey Theatre only six years after Ireland decriminalized suicide, proved prescient in focusing on this national health problem among the young. The very structure of the play mirrors the fragmentation and messy aftermath that suicide almost inevitably produces. The abrupt beginning, where a character that the audience does not know and cannot know kills himself, leaves the audience in a position similar to that of survivors who find a suicide. Drawing on the work of Ludwig Binswanger, Kay Renfield Jamison, and national studies of suicide the essay argues that young Jason’s suicide represents a direct challenge to life understood as an orderly progression from birth to death and as an attempt to deny the very premise of lived life itself. (DEM)