Across The Margins: Cultural Identity and Change in the by Glenda Norquay, Gerry Smyth

By Glenda Norquay, Gerry Smyth

Around the Margins deals a comparative, theoretically educated research of the cultural formation of the Atlantic Archipelago. In its total perception and in particular contributions, this assortment demonstrates some great benefits of operating around the disciplines of background, geography, literature, and cultural stories. It additionally offers new configurations of cultural varieties hitherto linked to in particular nationwide and sub-national literatures.

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Th’anerly ither bits in Britain ur Oaxfurd an Hull. Thi Pool, Scoatlan, an Bisley, Stroud, ur cut ti cuttilbanes in America, which issa grecht big burdcage wi a tartan rug owre ut, tae shaw Roabirt Lowell. (from O’Rourke 1994: 146) Herbert hails from Dundee, a city which itself has a long and complicated history of Irish immigration and trade links with the Indian subcontinent; his views on language are worth quoting at length: My experience of being Scottish in England was the discovery of suppressed contrasts.

No alternative transcendent lies in wait to take over; the possible alternatives (those which are foundational, for example, in liberal humanism and nationalism – the literary, the good, the just) have already been deployed in the perpetual process of definition and fixing, and so exist below the transcendent status of ‘Ireland’, having been in its service. Hence there must be a necessarily tremulous method of approaching ‘Ireland’ within Irish criticism; on the one hand seeking its definition as the key to all mythologies, as the langue of speaking about Ireland which binds together and explains the fact of speech in this discourse itself; on the other hand knowing that the act of defining ‘Ireland’ as langue begs a replacement which is unimaginable, given the exhaustion of resources deployed in order to get to that point of definition.

The transcendent ‘Ireland’, which accommodates all statements about Ireland, slips out of time before it can be entrapped, and thus avoids collapsing the trope of narration. Indeed it could be argued (as I suggest below with regard to Declan Kiberd and Emer Nolan in their critiques of Joyce) that narrative time is the way in which ‘Ireland’ escapes and puts off definition, ensuring its place as an absent presence now, and a promissory repletion later, when time itself is full and ‘nostalgia’ no longer has a role.

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