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Celtic Connections

Irish-Scottish Relations and the Politics of Culture

Series:

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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JOHN STRACHAN Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer

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‘When they brought me to a Christian land, I thought I should have found them all Christians’. ‘And what did you find them, then, Immalee?’ ‘Only Catholics’. — C. R. Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) In the early 1820s, the Reverend Charles Robert Maturin delivered a sermon at St Peter’s in Dublin, the church at which he had been a curate for over a decade, his hopes for preferment in the Church of Ireland hampered by the controversies dogging his other careers as dramatist and novelist. In one of the perorations which were later to be collected under the forth- right title of Five Sermons on the Errors of the Roman Catholic Church (1824), Maturin preached on a theme close to his heart: the pernicious, even meretricious, nature of Roman Catholic theology and its malign inf luence on his country: The Church of Rome, it is well known, allows the commutation of penance; that is, that a person shall be allowed to take on himself the penance enjoined on another for the commission of sin; and thus, in Italy, in Spain, in Portugal, even in deluded, besotted Ireland, a wealthy of fender may bribe, for a trif ling sum, a guiltless pauper to commute with the Almighty for his of fences! (Maturin, 1824a: 86) ‘This is a mournful exposure’, laments Maturin, ‘as if one sinner could atone for the iniquity of another, as if sin were an article of exchange, like a burden of corn or a bundle of hay’...

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