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Celtic Connections

Irish-Scottish Relations and the Politics of Culture


Edited By Willy Maley and Alison O'Malley-Younger

While a number of published works approach the shared concerns of Ireland and Scotland, no major volume has offered a sustained and up-to-date analysis of the cultural connections between the two, despite the fact that these border crossings continue to be politically suggestive. The current collection addresses this area of comparative critical neglect, focusing on writers, from Charles Robert Maturin to Liam McIlvanney, whose work offers insights into debates about identity and politics in these two neighbour nations, too often overwhelmed by connections with their larger neighbour, England.
The essays in this collection are distinct yet connected, and are designed to come together like the intricate cross-bars and precise patterning of the plaid to capture the complexity of the Celtic connections they address. They move from pre-history to postmodernism, from Gothic to Gaelic and from Macbeth to Marxism, incorporating gender and genre, and providing a detailed survey of responses to the Irish-Scottish paradigm.


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WILLY MALEY AND ALISON O’MALLEY-YOUNGER Introduction: Twilight to Tiger Perhaps in the very combination of opposites – […] ‘the Caledonian antisyzygy’ – we have a ref lection of the contrasts which the Scot shows at every turn, in his political and ecclesiastical history, in his polemical restlessness, in his adaptability, which is another way of saying that he has made allowance for new conditions, in his practical judgement, which is the admission that two sides of the matter have been considered. If therefore, Scottish history and life are, as an old northern writer said of something else, ‘varied with a clean contrair spirit,’ we need not be sur- prised to find that in his literature the Scot presents two aspects which appear contradictory. Oxymoron was ever the bravest figure, and we must not forget that disorderly order is order after all. — Smith, 1919: 45 I’ll ha’e nae hauf-way hoose, but ay be whaur Extremes meet – it’s the only way I ken To dodge the curst conceit o’ bein’ richt That damns the vast majority o’ men. — Riach and Grieve, 1993: 30 The divided self is a familiar theme in Scottish literature, from Jekyll and Hyde to the work of R. D. Laing, and Ireland too has its doubling propen- sity, as Joyce suggested when he characterised his country, and his fittingly named hometown, as having the capacity to think ‘two thinks at a time’ (FW 583.7). This shared history of double thinking has also been at times a shared colonial experience that...

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