Quirke, the 1950s, and Leopold Bloom
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Benjamin Black’s Quirke series explores how Irish urban society reflects the mind-set of an entire population that is governed by a state encased in the stagnant grip of a right-wing Catholic Church throughout the dark decade of 1950s Ireland. McNamara argues that Black uses the character of Quirke, a pathologist with a penchant for crossing into the seedy underworld of Dublin, to track the Irish urban landscape in exploration of the somber inertia of post-Emergency Ireland. Quirke’s inquisitiveness spurs him to investigate the untimely and suspicious demise of some of the corpses that arrive on a trolley in his pathology department, where he finds, contrary to protection for women and children enshrined in de Valera’s 1937 Constitution, the systematic abuse and suppression of the vulnerable in society and the subsequent support and concealment of these injustices.