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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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Irene Gilsenan Nordin Elegy and celebration: Landscape, place and dwelling in th epoetry of Moya Cannon 243


Irene Gilsenan Nordin Elegy and celebration: Landscape, place and dwelling in the poetry of Moya Cannon The poets are everywhere, by their very definition, the guardians of nature, They will either be nature, or they will seek for nature. — Friedrich Schiller Poetry, Surpassing music, must take the place Of empty heaven and its hymns. — Wallace Stevens In his collection of essays, Preoccupations, Seamus Heaney explores a number of central issues concerning the preoccupations of the writer today. Some of the questions addressed are the following: ‘How should a poet properly live and write? What is his relationship to be to his own voice, his own place, his literary heritage and contemporary world’ (Heaney 1980: 13). He discusses early Irish nature poetry, which was inspired by what he calls ‘The God in the Tree’ – the deep sense of the deity that was immanent, living and breathing everywhere in the natural world. This god is seen in the monastic context as the Christian deity, ‘the giver of life, the sustainer of nature, creator Father and redeemer’, and in the pre-Christian era, as the ‘less doctrinally defined’ god of the Celtic otherworld (Heaney 1980: 186). Thus landscape and place are important, seen as ‘a mode of com- munion, a something other […] to which we ourselves still feel we might belong’, associated with the sense of the sacred, something ‘sacramental, 244 Irene Gilsenan Nordin instinct with signs, implying a system of reality beyond the visible realities’ (Heaney 1980: 132). The close awareness of the...

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