This study of literary geography examines the relationship between landscape and identity in the works of nine Irish writers who published English language novels between 1929-1946. Focusing upon the distinct experiences and depictions by these Irish writers, an engagement with Mikhail Bakhtin's 'Historical Poetics' sets the periodicity of early post-independent and partitioned Ireland in rhythm with the distinct senses of spaces of culture to which each writer's works give birth. The novels of Peadar O'Donnell and Patrick Kavanagh, offer contrasting 'native' literary perspectives of the cultures inhabiting the rural seascapes, boglands, drumlin fields and townlands of western and south-eastern Ulster. Forrest Reid and Michael McLaverty's works also visit regional Ulster sites, as well as the cityscape of Belfast, but are rendered by the urban gaze of their respective Unionist and Nationalist heritages and traditions.
The novels of Elizabeth Bowen and Molly Keane chronicle the fading 'House-Island' lifeworlds of the Protestant Ascendancy culture, in southern Ireland, while Kate O'Brien's work recounts the centripetal forces linking the Catholic bourgeois, the provincial town and the political discourses of Saorstat Eireann during the adoption of the 1937 Bunreacht na hEireann. Flann O'Brien's surreal depiction of the 'real' and 'imagined' spaces of Dublin, contest and lampoon the city's appropriation by cultural lobbies espousing a retro-grade Irish nationalism. The works of Samuel Beckett are colored by aesthetic and philosophical sensibilities which deconstruct the Cartesian comedy he intuited framing the perception of place with the irony of his own self imposed experience of emigration and exile.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd