Empire's Wake: Postcolonial Irish Writing and the Politics of Modern Literary Form

Empire's Wake: Postcolonial Irish Writing and the Politics of Modern Literary Form

Mark Quigley
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Empire's Wake: Postcolonial Irish Writing and the Politics of Modern Literary Form
    Book Description:

    Shedding new light on the rich intellectual and political milieux shaping the divergent legacies of Joyce and Yeats, Empire's Wake traces how a distinct postcolonial modernism emerged within Irish literature in the late 1920s to contest and extend key aspects of modernist thought and aesthetic innovation at the very moment that the high modernist literary canon was consolidating its influence and prestige. By framing its explorations of postcolonial narrative form against the backdrop of distinct historical moments from the Irish Free State to the Celtic Tiger era, the book charts the different phases of 20th-century postcoloniality in ways that clarify how the comparatively early emergence of the postcolonial in Ireland illuminates the formal shifts ccompanying the transition from an age of empire to one of globalization. Bringing together new perspectives on Beckett and Joyce with analyses of the critically neglected works of Sean O'Faolain, Frank McCourt, and the Blasket autobiographers, Empire's Wake challenges the notion of a singular "global modernism" and argues for the importance of critically integrating the local and the international dimensions of modernist aesthetics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5046-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XIV)
  4. Introduction. Rerouting Irish Modernism: Postcolonial Aesthetics and the Imperative of Cosmopolitanism
    (pp. 1-24)

    As we consider the complex energies animating Irish literature in the wake of empire, some initial insight into the challenges faced by the generation of Irish writers emerging in the 1920s and 1930s and the unique value of the body of literature they produced may be gleaned from a rather unlikely source. In the “Introductory Note” to the English translation of Muiris Ó Súillebháin’s Blasket Island autobiography,Twenty Years A-Growing, published in 1933, E. M. Forster remarks admiringly on the “odd document” (v) the book constitutes as a text at once framed by the legacy of the Irish Literary Revival...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Modernity’s Edge: Speaking Silence on the Blaskets
    (pp. 25-64)

    Just off one of the more remote stretches of Ireland’s southwestern coast and within close view of the Dingle peninsula lie the Blasket Islands. A diminutive archipelago extending south and west from Slea Head, near the tip of the peninsula, the Blaskets loom tantalizingly close to the mainland even as they stand apart. In that regard, they resemble countless other small islands dotting the waters all along the Irish coastal periphery. In the case of the Blaskets, however, what makes this geographic liminality more significant and, indeed, emblematic is the way in which it becomes intertwined with the political and...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Sean O’Faoláin and the End of Republican Realism
    (pp. 65-121)

    With good reason, a wide array of scholars tend to view Sean O’Faoláin as the overarching figure of the first generation of Irish writers coming to maturity in the wake of the Irish Civil War and the establishment of the Irish Free State. Whether as editor of theBell, animating force within Yeats’s Irish Academy of Letters, or irrepressible commentator and polemicist on a wide range of Irish cultural, literary, and political affairs, O’Faoláin serves as a social, professional, or intellectual nexus for a staggering array of Irish writers and thinkers in the early decades of Irish postcoloniality, from Bowen...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Unnaming the Subject: Samuel Beckett and Postcolonial Absence
    (pp. 122-169)

    Until relatively recently, many scholars have been reluctant to consider Samuel Beckett’s Irishness as much more than a curious biographical footnote. Though critics as varied as Vivian Mercier, Seamus Deane, Hugh Kenner, Declan Kiberd, and David Lloyd—to name a notable few—have all turned aspects of Beckett’s Irishness to useful scholarly account, consideration of Beckett’s Irishness has for the most part been the province of specialists in Irish literature.¹ It has typically not been taken up by the larger body of Beckett scholars as a matter of great concern for those seeking an understanding of his place within modernism...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Postmodern Blaguardry: Frank McCourt, the Celtic Tiger, and the Ashes of History
    (pp. 170-206)

    In a country so devoted to preserving—and marketing—its literary heritage, it was a rather curious sign of the times that one of the most notable additions to the Irish literary tourist circuit in the late 1990s was a tour of a past that had quite literally been razed. To the chagrin of many, the book that unquestionably had the greatest impact on global impressions of Ireland in the era of the Celtic Tiger was Frank McCourt’s memoirAngela’s Ashes. Translated into some twenty languages and selling more than 4 million copies worldwide, McCourt’s 1996 catalogue of 1930s and...

  9. Conclusion. Dispatches from the Modernist Frontier: “European and Asiatic papers please copy”
    (pp. 207-212)

    The extent to which the Celtic Tiger fantasy of a sleek decollateralized global cosmopolitanism has proven the real chimera has, of course, been tragically confirmed by the spectacular collapse of the Irish economy. The boarded-up shop fronts and jagged rebar of thousands of abandoned building sites and “ghost estates” that scar the blasted landscape of post–Celtic Tiger Ireland offer a bleakly ironic testimony to the persistent materiality underlying the patina of seamless consumption and endlessly repeating postmodern play. International press dispatches chronicling debt “contagion” and the implosion of global finance now inscribe Ireland at the frontier of a new...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 213-228)
    (pp. 229-238)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 239-250)