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Authority and Wisdom in the New Ireland

Studies in Literature and Culture


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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Katarzyna Ojrzyńska - A New Lens on Tending the Irish Sectarian Wound: Vincent Woods’s At the Black Pig’s Dyke


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A New Lens on Tending the Irish Sectarian Wound: Vincent Woods’s At the Black Pig’s Dyke

Kazuo Ishiguro’s widely acclaimed novel The Unconsoled features a character, Brodsky, who is obsessed by a phantom wound which he received in his childhood. Although the wound has healed, Brodsky is unwilling to forget it and is ‘[a]lways tending [his] wound’ (Ishiguro 1996: 499), which serves as an unsurmountable obstacle to his reunion with Miss Collins, the love of his life. At one point in the novel, he attends a funeral and gives the woman who has just lost her husband the following piece of advice: ‘Caress your wound now. It will be there for the rest of your life. But caress it now, while it’s raw and bleeding’ (Ishiguro 1996: 372). This motif of caressing the wound and never allowing it to mend is also strongly present in Vincent Woods’s play At the Black Pig’s Dyke. As one of its main characters, Lizzie, posits, ‘Time doesn’t heal. Don’t anyone say it does. Time only puts a thin skin on the wound but you can always see the blood underneath. The same as on the baby’s head’ (Woods 1998: 38). The final words in this quotation seem to be a reference to the fontanelle of a new-born infant, which serves as an emblem of continuous violence and suffering which in the play are passed down from one generation to another.


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