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Redefinitions of Irish Identity

A Postnationalist Approach


Edited By Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Carmen Zamorano Llena

Recently, the issue of postnationalism has encouraged intense debate, which has been reflected in the publication of numerous books and articles in various fields of study, including politics, history, philosophy and anthropology. However, the work produced in Irish literary criticism has been much sparser. This collection of essays aims to fill this gap and provide new insights into the debate on postnationalism in Ireland from the perspective of narrative writing. The book collects thirteen essays by academics from various countries, including Ireland, the United States and Sweden. It analyses the concepts of the postnational and the postnationalist in relation to globalisation, as well as the debate that postnationalist discourse has opened in various fields of knowledge, and its definitions and implications in the contemporary Irish historical and literary context. The literary forms under consideration include essay writing, drama, fiction, autobiography, film and poetry. The authors whose work is analysed here include Dermot Bolger, Hubert Butler, Ciaran Carson, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Marie Jones, Derek Mahon, Frank McGuinness, Robert McLiam Wilson, Conor McPherson, Sinéad Morrissey, Nuala O’Faolain and David Wheatley.


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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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