Studies in Literature and Culture
Carmen Zamorano Llena - The Location of the New Ireland: Redefinitions of Memory and Belonging in Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture
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CARMEN ZAMORANO LLENA
The Location of the New Ireland: Redefinitions of Memory and Belonging in Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture
In February 2010 novelist and song-writer Julian Gough published in his blog a post entitled ‘The State of Irish Literature 2010’. This post reproduced an updated version of his interview with Dalkey Archive Press, the publishers of the anthology Best European Fiction 2010, where Gough’s award-winning short story ‘The Orphan and the Mob’ had been chosen to represent Irish literature. In his caustic piece, Gough took exception with contemporary Irish literature for its lack of engagement with the present circumstances of the Celtic and post-Celtic Tiger era. He lamented that contemporary Irish fiction, as reflected by many recent award-winning Irish novels, is anchored in the past, and that ‘Irish literary writers have become a priestly caste, scribbling by candlelight, cut off from the electric current of the culture’. This scathing attack on his fellow Irish fiction writers ignited an intense, though short-lived, debate on the extent to which Gough’s polemic words can be regarded as truly representative of the state of contemporary Irish literature. John Banville diplomatically stated that Gough ‘has a point, or more than one point’, though he criticised the style and manner in which Gough articulated his argument (Flood 2010). In a similar vein, Sebastian Barry claimed that Gough was ‘completely right and completely wrong’, and that ‘he himself would have said the same thing “word for word” 30 years...
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