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Politics of the Personal in the Fiction of Colm Tóibín


Kathleen Costello-Sullivan

This original and engaging study explores the way in which Colm Tóibín repeatedly identifies and disrupts the boundaries between personal and political or social histories in his fiction. Through this collapsing of boundaries, he examines the cost of broader political exclusions and considers how personal and political narratives shape individual subjects.
Each of Tóibín’s novels is comprehensively addressed here, as are his non-fiction works, reviews, plays, short stories, and some as-yet-unpublished work. The book situates Tóibín not only within his contemporary literary milieu, but also within the contexts of the Irish literary tradition, contemporary Irish politics, Irish nationalism, and theories of psychology, gender, nationalism, and postcolonialism.


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Acknowledgments ix Introduction Mother/Country: The Politics of the Personal in the Fiction of Colm Tóibín 1 Chapter 1 ‘Like Being in Another Country’: Doubled Narratives of Nation and Self in The South 35 Chapter 2 Politics and the Lost Mother(s) in The Heather Blazing 65 Chapter 3 ‘Hiding from the Other Side’: Politics and Sexuality in The Story of the Night 97 Chapter 4 ‘Nothing Secret, Nothing Held Inside’: Narrating Absence and Trauma in The Blackwater Lightship 123 Chapter 5 ‘A Great Withholding’: Fictive (Auto)Biography and the Primacy of Art in The Master 155 viii Chapter 6 ‘She Would Have to Go Back’: Emigration and the Portability of Culture in Brooklyn 189 Bibliography 221 Index 231

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