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The Crossings of Art in Ireland

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Edited By Ruben Moi, Brynhildur Boyce and Charles Armstrong

The essays in this volume explore interartistic connections in Irish literature, drama, film and the visual arts. Within modern and postmodern culture, innovation is often driven by surprising interrelations between the arts, and this book offers a discussion of this phenomenon and analyses a number of artworks that move across disciplines. Several contributors examine the concept of ekphrasis, looking at how Irish writers such as Seamus Heaney, John Banville, Paul Muldoon, Ciaran Carson, Patrick Kavanagh, W.B. Yeats and Samuel Beckett have responded to the visual arts. Others explore interartistic ‘crossings’ in the drama of Brian Friel, in James Barry’s eighteenth-century Shakespeare paintings and in contemporary Irish film. Together, the essays present a fresh perspective on Irish artistic culture and open up new avenues for future study.
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The Adoration of the Maggot: A Muldonic Coronation

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1

I

Across the years, readers of Paul Muldoon will have been made well aware of his extensive, and occasionally outrageous, flirtations with relations between the arts.2 As is evidenced by his highly conceitful poetry, Muldoon’s imagination is, in the visual sense, precisely that: an image-forming capacity in which consummately fashioned vignettes are thrown into startling juxtapositions. One need only think of the abrupt apotheosis of Muldoon’s ← 261 | 262 → Hedgehog in New Weather (1972), the detonation of germ warfare across a sensitively-realized Native American consciousness in the title poem of Meeting the British (1984) – or the surreal chain of associative links in the same volume which accommodate Nerval both taking his lobster for a walk on a gossamer thread and hanging himself from a length of chain – for the effect to be felt.3 More recently still, Plan-B (2009) – a self-contained volume as much as a sort of half-way house to his collection Maggot (2010) – plays with a series of photographic images against which the poems may or may not explicitly relate, at the same time as their placement on facing pages forces the reader to at least consider the possibility of reading them together.4

Despite the multiplicity of ways in which such poems tease the reader – the aesthetic seeming to derive as much from that which is not connected (what is lost in the interface between word and image) as from what the two have in common – Muldoon shows no sign of having exhausted...

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