Migration and Belonging in Irish Literature and Film
Modernity exists in the form of a desire to wipe out whatever came earlier in the hope of reaching at last a point that could be called a true present, a point of origin that marks a new departure. This combined interplay of a deliberate forgetting with an action that is also a new origin reaches the full power of the idea of modernity.
— PAUL DE MAN, ‘Literary History and Literary Modernity’, 388–9
The title of this collection, The Leaving of Ireland, refers to the idea of departure as both a physical movement and a temporal category that points to the quite different country that exists today in contrast to the Ireland of the twentieth century. A number of vectors of social change, from exposure of Church abuse scandals to globalization and economic turmoil, have altered the landscape of Ireland forever. However, this does not merely supplant what went before in a linear developmental process. What such a moment offers is an opportunity to reconsider the very terms by which the dominant narrative of Irish identity has asserted and maintained itself and it should not be, as Paul de Man pointedly argues, simply another moment of ‘forgetting’ that functions to generate another point of origin. One mythology should not be replaced by another but instead open a space for a critical reflection on the process of writing itself.
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