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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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MARTYN COLEBROOK ‘There is something narcotic in watching a war unfold on your doorstep, knowing all


the while it can’t hurt you’: Liam McIlvanney’s All the Colours of the Town Scotland will be reborn the day the last minister is strangled with the last copy of the Sunday Post. — Nairn, 1970: 34 Advocates of Tartan Noir should not be satisfied to see crime fiction considered an equal genre to literary fiction but a superior one. Literary fiction has now detached itself into its own hermetic bubble away from the rest of the world, where people do and say things that are excused from reality because they are ‘literary’. Despite its faults (and it has many) crime fiction is more relevant to us and our situation because, from leaders declaring war for ropey reasons, to smokers daring to puf f in an enclosed public space, everyone has broken the law. We are all criminals. — O’Connor, 2007: 58 Tom Nairn’s polemical article, ‘Three Dreams of Scottish Nationalism’, published in The New Left Review in 1968 of fers a resounding clarion call to Scottish national aspirations. Nairn (1970: 34) argues two reasons, firstly because it of fers ‘a blow against the integrity of British imperialism’ and secondly, ‘because it represents some transfer of power to a smaller arena’. Whilst these suggestions range from the eminently supportable to the potentially problematic, they correlate and resonate with the on-going principal of how fiction responds to regional feelings of social, cultural and political fragmentation. 170 MARTYN COLEBROOK Edmund O’Connor’s own assertive assessment of the dominance of crime fiction over literary fiction reinforces...

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