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Limits of Orality and Textuality in Ciaran Carson’s Poetry


Grzegorz Czemiel

Following the evolution of Ciaran Carson’s work, this book aims to trace the tension between orality and textuality, which can be discerned in the poetry of the Northern-Irish writer. Assuming these forces to be the two major sources of all literature, the author delineates, using deconstruction, how they inform and structure Carson’s poetic œuvre. Further thematic analyses focus on three major themes: memory, city and history, adopting various critical approaches, among them New Historicism and psychoanalysis. Finally, taking cue from Carson’s later work, an epistemological and metaphysical dimension of his poetry is revealed. This serves as the final vantage point from which the author offers a potential glimpse beyond the said dialectic, unveiling Carson’s broadly ethical project.
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I City


His passion and his profession is to merge with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. Charles Baudelaire

Demonic intimations went on daily; routine, undercover orchestrations Of the nominated discipline of alphabetic, proscribed areas That ended, as they always do, in tragic, tired recriminations; rhetoric. Ciaran Carson

The Belfast flâneur

The definition of the flâneur, given by Charles Baudelaire in “The Painter of Modern Life,”1 quoted in the motto above, has become the ground for the characterization of the literary experience of modernity. It is to this day seen as an accurate diagnosis of the epistemological value of the city, both in terms of an ordinary passer-by and the artist. Baudelaire was among the first to observe that “in the daily metamorphosis of external things, there is a rapidity of movement which calls for an equal speed of execution from the artist”2 whose new task is to become the “painter of the passing moment.”3 The arrival of modernity was concurrent not only with the industrial progression, but also with the growth of the cities and the dawning of an urban revolution, heralded by the reshaping of Paris by Baron Haussmann and John Nash’s new developments in London. Baudelaire gave credit for the first...

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