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Authority and Wisdom in the New Ireland

Studies in Literature and Culture

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Edited By Carmen Zamorano Llena and Billy Gray

Since the end of the nineteenth century, Ireland has witnessed a profound reconfiguration of its cultural, political, constitutional and religious identities, resulting in an unparalleled questioning of the dominant discourses and narratives that have seemingly defined the nation. The essays in this collection examine the ways in which established Irish socio-cultural structures of authority and their constructs of collective identity have been challenged within literary and cultural discourses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Every challenge to the purported wisdom of these authority structures adds a new facet to the complexity of Irish national identity and contributes to the continuous evolution of the ‘New Ireland’, a phrase often used to signify the momentous transformations of the country in times of change.
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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

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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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