But the Irish Sea Betwixt Us

But the Irish Sea Betwixt Us: Ireland, Colonialism, and Renaissance Literature

Andrew Murphy
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: 1
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    But the Irish Sea Betwixt Us
    Book Description:

    At the rise of the Tudor age, England began to form a national identity. With that sense of self came the beginnings of the colonialist notion of the "other"" Ireland, however, proved a most difficult other because it was so closely linked, both culturally and geographically, to England. Ireland's colonial position was especially complex because of the political, religious, and ethnic heritage it shared with England. Andrew Murphy asserts that the Irish were seen not as absolute but as "proximate" others. As a result, English writing about Ireland was a problematic process, since standard colonial stereotypes never quite fit the Irish.But the Irish Sea Betwixt Usexamines the English view of the "imperfect" other by looking at Ireland through works by Spenser, Jonson, and Shakespeare. Murphy also considers a broad range of materials from the Renaissance period, including journals, pamphlets, histories, and state papers.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4950-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    In the Spenser chapter of his 1984 book,Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance,David Norbrook is almost apologetic about his dedication to tracing the political and historical lineages of Spenser’s poetic career, as he observes, “This book is not exclusively concerned with topical issues, and it has become unfashionable to pay dose attention to Spenser’s political allegory” (1984, 125). More than a decade later, this touch of reticence on Norbrook’s part may feel rather surprising. In general terms, the 1980s witnessed the phenomenal rise of a revitalized historicist criticism on both sides of the Atlantic, with the ascendancy...

  5. 1 “White Chimpanzees”: Encountering Ireland
    (pp. 11-32)

    We begin with twentieth-century Dublin and a moment of cultural epiphany. In Roddy Doyle’s novel,The Commitments,Jimmy Rabbitte astonishes his friends Derek Scully and Outspan Foster by declaring that “the Irish are the niggers of Europe, lads.” This information comes as a revelation to Derek and Outspan: “They nearly gasped: it was so true” (1989, 9). In the novel, Jimmy’s observation is turned to comic effect, as, on the strength of his insight, he goes on to proclaim James Brown’s slogan: “Say it loud, I’m black an’ I’m proud”—a phrase humorously inapposite in the context of a racially...

  6. 2 “Ad Remotissimas Occidentis Insulas”: Gerald and the Irish
    (pp. 33-59)

    In a much quoted remark in the essay “Anglo-Irish Attitudes,” Declan Kiberd has observed that “the English did not invade Ireland—rather, they seized a neighboring island and invented the idea of Ireland” (1986, 83).¹ Insofar as there is an “originary” moment in that process of invention, it can be traced to the closing decades of the twelfth century and the arrival of the Norman-English in lreland.² It is in this period that the cleric Gerald de Barri, or “Giraldus Cambrensis,” became, as F.X. Martin has noted, “the first foreigner to write a book about Ireland” (1969, 279).³ Gerald was...

  7. 3 “They Are All Wandred Much: That Plaine Appeares”: Spenser and the Old English
    (pp. 60-96)

    In 1587, Gerald’sExpugnatioappeared in print in an English translation for the first time ever—included as part of Holinshed’sChroniclesby John Hooker. Subsequently, in 1602, William Camden included the complete Latin text of both theExpugnatioand theTopographiain hisAnglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica a Verterivus Scriptis.¹ The renewed interest in Gerald’s work can in part be attributed to a general enthusiasm for antiquarianism in the period, but there are also other reasons that explain the increased level of attention paid to Gerald’s Irish writings.² The sixteenth century was a period of intensive development in Anglo-Irish...

  8. 4 “The Remarkablest Story of Ireland”: Shakespeare and the Irish War
    (pp. 97-123)

    We have seen that a primary concern of Spenser’s inA View of the Present State of Irelandlay with the problem of the Old English. Spenser’s prose tract can thus be said to provide a concerted engagement with a novel version of the problem of proximity—the existence in Ireland of a population of settlers who have adopted certain aspects of Irish culture and practice. Even as Spenser engages with the issue of Old English proximity, however, there is a rising sense in theViewas it draws to a close that the situation with regard to the Gaelic...

  9. 5 “The Irish Game Turned Again”: Jonson and the Union
    (pp. 124-150)

    Fynes Moryson, in hisItinerary,describes the scene of O’Neill’s surrender to Mountjoy on March 30, 1603: “They came altogether toMellifantin the afternoon, whereTyronebeing admitted to the Lord Deputies chamber, kneeled at the doore humbly on his knees for a long space, making his penitent submission to her Maiesty, and after being required to come neerer to the Lord Deputie, performed the same ceremony in all humblenesse, the space of one houre or there abours” (1617, 2:279). In Thomas Gainsford’s account of the surrender, O’Neill confesses “to offending God and her Maiesty,” acknowledging “how hee had...

  10. Conclusion: 1641 and After
    (pp. 151-165)

    Spenser’sView of the Present State of Irelandappeared in print for the first time in 1633, included in a volume entitledThe Historie of Ireland collected by three learned authors,compiled by the historian and antiquary Sir James Ware.¹ Ware’sHistoriewas an eclectic volume, combining theViewwith works by Edmund Campion, an English-born Jesuit who spent some two years in Dublin and who was tortured and executed in London in 1581, and Meredith Hanmer, a Protestant English clergyman who served in various offices in the Irish church.² In placing theViewin such mixed company, Ware expressed...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 166-200)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-218)
  13. Index
    (pp. 219-227)