William Trevor

William Trevor (1928–2016), one of the finest and most prolific contemporary storytellers, took early inspiration from James Joyce, while recognizing the pitfalls of that author’s sanctification and of literary idolatry in general. In Trevor’s satirical story “Two More Gallants,” conditions in Ireland are shown to have improved a good deal from those in the time of Joyce’s original “Two Gallants,” yet slippery problems of national identity remain or have taken on the appearance of a higher caste and sophistication. At the core of the character in question in Trevor’s story is the tension between moral imagination and rote behavior. The safety and relative ease brought by advancement are shown to be potential sources of corruption and complacency. In carrying Joyce’s “conscience of my race” forward for new generations, Trevor announced himself as Joyce’s successor, much as Auden, in “In Memory of W. B. Yeats,” paid honest tribute and donned the crown of his profession.