By Glenda Norquay, Gerry Smyth
Around the Margins deals a comparative, theoretically proficient research of the cultural formation of the Atlantic Archipelago. In its total notion and in particular contributions, this assortment demonstrates some great benefits of operating around the disciplines of heritage, geography, literature, and cultural experiences. It additionally provides new configurations of cultural varieties hitherto linked to in particular nationwide and sub-national literatures.
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Additional info for Across The Margins: Cultural Identity and Change in the Atlantic Archipelago
Giving ‘Ireland’ a meaning which fills out the term comfortably is seemingly the underwriting principle of Irish criticism’s existence, with the aesthetic, the cultural, the generic and the ‘minor’ all given a presence within critical writing on Ireland by their contribution as slivers of ‘Ireland’ which are temporarily imagined as hived off from the undisruptable, unseeable whole. Each book and article on Joyce or on the Whiteboys, each individual account of Irish memoir, each reclamation of Irishness from the diaspora, then risks becoming subsumed in the perpetually deferred but always desired, Casaubon-like quest for the settling of ‘the Irish question’, a question which both begs a definition and a definitive answer; and that question transcends the politics of Unionism or nationalism, the force of Norquay_03_Ch2 36 22/3/02, 9:46 am 37 Speaking of Ireland revisionist historiography, the regional and the local, and indeed the course of historical change itself, being always sure of its position as the raison d’être of what is spoken about ‘Ireland’ and never in fear of alteration by these pronouncements.
Thus the paradoxical reintroduction of ‘European time’ lifts ‘Ireland’ as a form of address out of its sign system and propels it for its own preservation into a future which needs to be undetermined. The desire for a synchronous definition of what ‘Ireland’ is remains behind as trace evidence of this continual projection forward, while the linear temporality which enthrals radical politics mean that ‘Ireland’ makes promises which perplexingly are never kept. III The link between the twin strands I have been developing here can be established in another way by noting their shared trait of impossibility and their use of a necessary intractability; ‘Ireland’ as subject, as well as the critical voice which speaks of ‘Ireland’, both disappear into a place which lies beyond what can be known, so that the tantalising prospect of a new ‘Bloomusalem’ remains eternally fresh.
Stephen and Bloom are, archetypally in early Joyce criticism, ‘two souls in search of the spiritual salvation that they can never find’ (Roberts 1970: 612). As Anthony Burgess puts it, in ‘Ithaca’ even the act of making cocoa reminds us ‘of the unconscious groping towards each other that Bloom and Stephen have, usually off their guard, in the margins of thought, exhibited all day’ (1982: 171). For Stephen, Bloom can be what Mulrennan’s old man of the West cannot be. In ‘Ithaca’ the ordinariness of the corporeal becomes an act of celebration rather than abjection, constituting a response to Michelet’s crisis and his privation.
Across The Margins: Cultural Identity and Change in the Atlantic Archipelago by Glenda Norquay, Gerry Smyth