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Ireland: Authority and Crisis


Edited By Carine Berbéri and Martine Pelletier

This volume sets out to investigate how various forms of authority in Irish culture and history have been challenged and transformed by a crisis situation. In literature and the arts, a reappraisal of the authority of canonical authors – and also of traditional forms, paradigms and critical discourses – principally revolves around intertextuality and rewriting, as well as the wider crisis of (authoritative) representation. What is the authority of an author, of a text, of literature itself? How do works of fiction represent, generate or resolve crises on their own aesthetic, stylistic and representational terms?
The Irish Republic has faced a number of serious crises and challenges since it came into existence. In recent years, the collapse of the Celtic Tiger has acted as a catalyst for change, revealing various structures of political, religious and economic authority giving way under pressure. In Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement has led to major developments as new authorities endowed with legislative and executive powers have been set up. In its focus on the subject of authority and crisis in Ireland, this book opens up a rich and varied field of investigation.
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Bertrand Cardin - Authorities in Crisis and Intertextual Practice: The Example of Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin


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Authorities in Crisis and Intertextual Practice: The Example of Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin


With its title taken from a poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson and an epigraph that is a quotation from a novel by Aleksander Hemon, Colum McCan’s postmodern, and polyphonic novel, Let the Great World Spin (2009), provides an opportunity to examine whether authorial authority still exists after Barthes announced ‘the death of the author’. The articulation between authority and intertextuality deserves to be studied to make out if these two concepts are compatible or, on the contrary, mutually exclusive, if there is reciprocal dependence, interaction between them, if authority is inversely proportional to the degree of intertextuality, if authority is greater in a text without intertextual ‘copresence’. In other words, can we read McCann’s novel as evidence that intertextual practice is a sign that authority is in crisis?

Just like the text, the book itself as an object has particular signs that call for response and interpretation. Let us imagine the potential reader’s first contact with this novel published in 2009 and written by a certain Colum McCann, a writer he had never heard of before. With the author’s name, the reader is informed about a few specific features concerning his identity: the writer is a man of Irish stock. Yet the reader may not perceive the Catholic connotation of the name. Indeed, Colum or Colm comes from Colomba or...

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