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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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Fabrice Mourlon - The Crisis of Authority in You, Me and Marley


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The Crisis of Authority in You, Me and Marley


In the early 1990s, as negotiations were taking on a new turn to find a settlement to end the conflict in Northern Ireland, the BBC commissioned a series of TV drama that dealt with issues that characterized a society which seemed at a crossroads. You, Me and Marley, screened in September 1992, captures the mood of war-weariness in Northern Ireland at that period all forms of authority are shown to be challenged and/or collapsing. themselves. This crisis is analysed through the concepts developed by Hannah Arendt and René Girard which demonstrate that the end of authority can explain the increase in disorder and violence in society and its institutions. Viewed from this perspective, You, Me and Marley is characteristic of the end of an era, when the conflict in Northern Ireland had reached a dead-end.

In an essay entitled ‘What is authority?’ Hannah Arendt claims that ‘authority has vanished from the modern world’;1 she further argues that the ‘disappearance of practically all traditionally established authorities has been one of the most spectacular characteristics of the modern world’.2 She contends that the true source of authority lies in the ‘Roman experience of foundation’ and warns against the confusion frequently made when seeking to define authority: ‘Since authority always demands obedience, it is commonly mistaken for some form of power or violence. Yet authority precludes the use...

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