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New Voices, Inherited Lines

Literary and Cultural Representations of the Irish Family


Edited By Yvonne O'Keeffe and Claudia Reese

Irish writers have always been fascinated by the family, sometimes depicting it as a traditional space under threat from external influences, sometimes highlighting the dangers lurking within. More recently, families have been represented as a type of safe haven from a bewildering postmodern world. At the heart of these constructions are questions of power and agency, as well as issues of class, gender, ethnicities and sexualities.
This collection of essays explores literary and cultural representations of the Irish family, questioning the validity of traditional familial structures as well as exploring newer versions of the Irish family emerging in more recent cultural representations. In addition to redefinitions of the nuclear family, the book also considers aspects of family constructions in Irish nationalist discourse, such as the symbolic use of the family and the interaction and conflict between private and public roles. The works and authors discussed range from Famine fiction, Samuel Beckett, Mary Lavin and John McGahern to Anne Enright, Colm Tóibín and Hugo Hamilton.


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Acknowledgements vii Introduction 1 Christopher Cusack and Lindsay Janssen Death in the Family: Reimagining the Irish Family in Famine Fiction, 1871–1912 7 Yvonne O’Keeffe Home Is Where the Heart Is: (De)constructing Family Ties in the Emigrant Novels of Mary Anne Madden Sadlier 35 Stephanie Eggermont Bad Breeding in George Egerton’s Irish Families 57 Jack Fennell Siege Cultures: The Early Twentieth-Century Rhetoric of External Threats to the Irish Catholic Family 75 Julie Bates Beckett’s Maternal Miscellany 91 Theresa Wray Sisters Under the Skin: Signalling a Viable Alternative to Blood-Relations in Mary Lavin’s Short Stories 109 vi Máire Doyle Exploring the Alternatives: The Orphan and the Family in John McGahern’s Fiction 125 Claudia Reese The Secrets That You Inherit: Family and Identity Construction in Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People 147 Louise Sheridan Escaping the Role of the ‘Irish Mammy’: Motherhood and Migration in Kate O’Riordan’s The Memory Stones 165 Hannelore Fasching ‘The new drama of being a mother about which so little has been written’: Maternal Subjectivity and the Mother Icon in Anne Enright’s Writing 183 Bridget English Laying Out the Bones: Death, Trauma and the Irish Family in Colm Tóibín’s The Blackwater Lightship and Anne Enright’s The Gathering 203 Notes on Contributors 225 Index 229

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