A Postnationalist Approach
Grace Tighe Ledwidge ‘What ish my nation?’: Nationalism and neo-nationalism in the novels of Colm Tóibín 201
Grace Tighe Ledwidge ‘What ish my nation?’: Nationalism and neo-nationalism in the novels of Colm Tóibín Declan Kiberd writes of the father–son conflict in Irish renaissance litera- ture as ‘the desire to find an enabling narrative, which would permit a person to represent the self ’ (1996: 387). This desire is at the core of Colm Tóibín’s The South, The Heather Blazing and The Blackwater Lightship, novels not only concerned with what Kiberd terms ‘a revolt by angry sons against discredited fathers’ (1996: 380) but also with a revolt by angry daughters against discredited mothers. All three novels provide a searing indictment of romantic nationalist ideology and show, in the stringent political, economic, religious and social atmosphere that prevailed for much of the twentieth century, how ingrained practices of secrecy and silence thwarted the quest for ‘an enabling narrative’ that would free the protagon- ists from their respective pasts. Both The South and The Heather Blazing end with the promise of a more open and inclusive society, a society that will banish the ghosts of the past by illuminating its gaps and silences and construct a new narrative which will enable the individual as well as the nation to move confidently towards the future. However, the presence of neo-nationalism in The Blackwater Lightship strikes an ominous note which suggests that the ghosts of nationalism may not be so easily banished from postnational ist Ireland. Neo-nationalism is a small cultural movement that seeks to preserve...
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