Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature (London: Pluto Press 1998), 262pp.

quaking sod [ix] stand-off between traditionalist and radicals [ix] publishing houses contribute to conservatism of Irish studies [ix] researchers routinely encoruaged to colonise new periods and marginal subjects in the drive to extend the discursive remit [ix] my [ix] entreaty to the contemp. Irish studies commnity is [...] that it should attend to its own role in the organisation and dissemination of narratives of power [x] sociopolitical contexts [x] Shaun Richards is ‘a scholar and a gentleman’ [x]

postcolonial Ireland’s most radical and self-conscious thought emerged intially in terms of literary critical discourses … between 1948 and 1958 [1] … the struggle to imagine ways of escaping the discursive economcy inherited from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries [2]

Vivian Mercier, ‘An Irish School of Criticism?’, Studies 1956; deplores the absence of a native critical tradition [3] conversance [4]

Edna Longley: Research that historicises our own activities can help us to walk the wobbly tightrope between attachment and detachment [4]

The dream of a stable self-conscious knowledge community conversing within a stable accepted language has long since dissipated; it was never much of a dream anyway and history shows (yes, history) that the most exciting scholarly work has always emerged from challenges to methodology and archival orthodoxies. [5]

James Joyce … the silent hero of this book [6]

THESIS: [based on assumption] that a colonial relationship obtained between Ireland and English since the twelfth century, that such a relationship underwent simultaneous consolidation and crisis in the eighteenth century, and that modern irish political and cultural activitiy may as a consequence most usefully be understood in terms of a model of decolonisation. [9] NOTE: ‘since’ for ‘after’.

a discursive economy of identity and difference [9]

English colonialism inIreland is exemplary in the degree to which it was unstable, inconsistent and partial [10]

the salience of the category of ‘identity’ itself as the terrrain upon which the vast majority of political, cultural and critical encounters in Irish history have taken place. [10] NOTE: this our field?

A colonial community … imagining and organising resistance [10] colonial resistance fatally bound to the Western imperialist systems against which it is obliged to cast itself. [11]

Todorov: good/bad nationalisms = internal/external orientation [11]

Anthony Smith, òNational Identity (1991).

Ethnonationalism, subaltern; civic nationalism, bureaucratic state (metropolitan) [13]

the dual nature of nationalism had particularly serious implications when, as in the case of Ireland, it became articulated to a discourse of colonial resistance [14]

social elites responsible for organising peoples into an effective nationalist resistance were quick to reinststate the systems of hierarchy and privilege which had characterised the colonial polity, only this time with a thin veneer of nationalist respectability. [re. Fanon; 15]

‘Anthony D. Smith’s otherwise scrupulously balanced account’: GS takes Smith to task for dismissing asian nationalism as imbibed abroad [15]

modular history [16]

Liberal decolonisation attempts to ‘raise the status’ of the colony [16]

radical decolonisation: ‘decolonisation cast in this radical “counter-identification” mode is concerned with what is imagined as unique and different about national identity. Radical decolonisation involves the rejection of imperial discourse, a celebrationi of difference and otherness, and the attempted reversal of the economy of power which constructs the colonial subject as inferior. In its more militant moments this second mode came to register as a need to shed violently if need be, the material and intellectual trappings of subordination, and to embrace/construct instead a pristine pre-history which would serve as both Edenic cause and Utopian goal of nationalst activity.’ [17]

Any Anglo-Irish subject wishing to embrace this politico-cultural option would always find [17] it difficult to gain fulla cccess to those discourses and practices from which the radical decolonising gesture emerged. [18]

how has this crisis … been negotiated in decolonising discourses in a country such as Ireland with such an obscure connection to the mainstream European tradition? [18]

Once positioned as subordinate within a discursive economy of power and knowledge, how can individuals and groups strive for release from subjugation without at the same time accepting their designation as Other and thereby reinforcing the structures of that economy? … How … can the subaltern speak? [19]

finds herself [20]

Although presence, essence, and identity remain at the root of the colonial problem, they remain the only available tools for decolonising activity. [20]

stand-off between universalism/liberalism [21]

representation segues irresistably from cultural-critical analysis to political prescription ‘[21]

Bhabha and ‘the Third Space’ that marks the moment between reality and representation, between the performance of a cultural text and the reality to which it refers. [22]

Decolonising critics must not only know where and how to look for this disruptive scene; once located, it must be read diferently, against the grain of a hermeneutics which in its interpretative assumptions - authority, intention, identity - always reproduces the “reality” of colonialist discourse. [22-23]

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak … concerned to test the limits of anti-colonialism [23]

they operate with a form of knowledge belonging to the dominant discourse but necessarily changed through its articulationi to subaltern contexts and idioms [23]

Said attempted to map out his own “third space” [25] By reducing history to discourse, and truth to a rhetorical postion adopted within the text, “post-strucalism has removed the very possibility of reasoned, reflective, and principled ethical choice’ (Norris, Truth and Ethics in Criticism, p.25.)

having cynically abandoned reason and progress as mere rhetorical ruses [they] are incapable of articulating “an ethics and a politics possessed of genuine emancipatory values.’ (Ibid., p.125.)

nexus of postcolonialism and poststructuralism … troubled [27]

Kearney … suggests that the Irish mind may be seen as favouring a different logic, one organised around the principle of both/and, and characterised by an intellectual ability to hold the traditional oppositions of classical reason together in creative confluence. [28]

In this reading, Joyce’s work is simultaneoulsy constructive and deconstructive, radically aware of language’s role as primary site and emblem of the decentred subject, yet enabled through his access to an Irish cultural consciousness (‘the Irish mind’) to appreciate the supreme materiality of language and the radical positionality of the truth it speaks. [29]

Deane: ‘A literature predicated on an abstract idea of essence … will inevitably degenerate whimsy and provincialism. Even when the literature itself avoids this limitation, the commentary on it re-imposes the limitations again [...] The point is not simply that the Irish are different. It is that they are absurdly different because of the disabling, if fascinating, separation between their notion of reality and that of everbody else.’ (1985: 57) [Err: there is no p.57 in the pamphlet.]

the moment in which established reality is questioned is always in danger of hardening int a strategy, a badge of otherness, a very “sign” of difference. … the refusal by colonised subjects such as Joyce to limit themselves to the reality provided by the colonising power [29] can eventually be diagnosed as a typical colonial response, another brick in the wall forming the border between imperial self and colonial other. [30] NOTE: Steady on, now!

In his insistence that the identitarian discourses of dominant nationalism are not the solution to colonial violence but the precise location of the problem, Lloyd reveals the poststructuralist assumptions underpining his own version of postcolonial theory. [30; refs. Nationalism and Minor Literature.]

treats Lloyd’s attack on Heaney [31]

for Lloyd, Heaney is merely the latest (and far from the most accomplished) in a long line of irish figures who have come unstuck when confronted with “the logic of identity that at every level structures and maintains the post-colonial moment”. [31]

Heaney’s collusive, essentialists fantasies [31]

Lloyd: ‘The process of hybridisation or adulteration in the Irish street ballads or in Ulysses aer at every level recalcitrant to th aethetic politics of [31] nationalism and .. to those of imperialism. Hybridisation or adulteration resist identifiaction both in the sense that they cannot be subordinated to a narrative of representation and in the sens that they play out the unevenness of knowledge which, against assimilation, foregrounds the political and cultural positioning of the audience or reader. (Anomalous States, p.114) [31-32]

Gibbons draws a distinction between coherent nationalist and fugitive nationalism, giving an account of 19th c. ireland in which the constitutional nationalism of O’Connell contended with the ‘dissident, insurrectionary tradition’ made up of half-digested epic imageery, the rituals of agrarian secret societys and the performative aesthetics of popular ballads. [32]

Gibbons: ‘Allegory in an Irish context belongs to the politics of the “unverblised”. It is not just a poetic device, but a figural practice that infiltrates everyday experience, giving rise to an aesthetics of the actual. … for allegory to retain its critical valency, it isvital that ther is an instability of reference and contestation of meaning to the point where it may not be at all clear where the figural ends, and where the literarl begins.’ (Transformations, p.20.) [33]

Lloyd: The very division between politics and culture that is the hallmark of liberal ideology is conceptually bankrupt throughout the postcolonial world.’ [1997, p.87; here 34]

GS regards Malcolm Brown’s model of ‘the politics of Irish literature’ as text and context as untenable [36-37] and deems that it still holds sway.

One problem with such an empphasis in the Irihs contexts is that despite the promise to reconfigure the relationship between culture and politics in colonial history, it represents an essential continuity with older more established and conservative models. [36; quoted in Maureen-Anne Kane, UG Diss., UUC 2006.)

NOTE: There is often a sense of wilful misreading in the attempt to match F. S. L. Lyons and Malcolm Brown up against Colin MacCabe and David Lloyd. [37]

As another manoeuvre towards the same end, consider F. S. L. Lyons’s verdict on ‘the false assumption’ made by some Irish intellectuals at the beginning of the twentieth century ‘[...] that in art, as in society, collaboration between classes, religions and races would fill the political vacuum. But in reality, there was no vacuum. The political issue - the issue of separation from Britain - remained the central issue and everything else would continue to be judged according to whether it added to or subtracted from the national demand’ (Ireland Since the Famine, rev. edn. 1973, p.246). In some respects this is a ‘radical’ position which refuses what David Lloyd calls (as noted in Chapter 1) ‘the very division between politics and culture that is the hallmark of liberal ideology’ (Bullán, Spring, 1997, p.87). Such divisions, according to postcolonial (and most oppositional) theory, obtain in formations lacking the historical experience of colonialism, constituting the norm against which a ‘radical’ culture/politics nexus is asserted. Lyons also appears to refuse the sequestration of culture from politics that characterises ‘liberal ideology’; yet he did so from within an Irish society which had been moving steadily towards a traditional Western model of ‘liberal’ nation-statehood during the twentieth century. In fact, the framework within which he operated was thoroughly bourgeois-liberal in conception, while the terms with which he worked were the established Western ones in which the ‘cultural’ and the ‘political’ signified specific, discrete spheres of activity. (Smyth, p.37).

THESIS: the location of those struggles was a form of metacultural discourse which has existed throughout modern Irish society in a wide variety of forms and locations, but which for convenience I shall refer to here as “criticism”. [38]

literary criticism … part of the quasi-emancipatory bourgeois discourse [41] quickly became a policing exercise designed to demarcate an area of privileged activity and to help consittute the subjects engaging in, and excluded from this activity. [42]

criticism’s crisis [43] criticism implies crisis [45]

Derrida ‘supplementarity’ [43]

Challenges Docherty’s dismissal of criticism [46] because of the role of criticism in modern Irish culture. [46]

THESIS: One of the aims of this book is to look at the ways in which criticism has been seized and used as part of the process of decolonisation in modern Ireland. [47]

no truck with vulgar marxism ‘reflection’ models! [49]

Criticism’s inherent political dimension has been maintained and enhanced during the modern era [51]

THESIS: I want to suggest a much more intimate and enabling relationship between criticism and decolonisation, arising from their problematic engagement with the discursive modes of the enlightenment and manifested through modern Irish history in a range of social practices and institutional effects. [51]

THESIS: My contention here is that this criticism/decolonisation connection constitutes a fundamental aspect of the modern Irish ‘cultural’ imagination, and that, at least since the late eighteenth century, the debate surrounding “the function of criticism” has also always been a debate about the function of the nation and the relations between colonising and decolonising subjects. [52]

Esto perpetua [sic; 55]

taken together, the thinking of Swift, Burke, and Grattan contributed to a notion of Ireland as an associated yet distinct kingodm which, given the respect it deserved, would remain loyal to a non-coercive English sovereign. [55]

As Declan Kiberd has argued: ‘The notion of “Ireland” is largely a fiction created by the rulers of England in response to specific needs at a precise moment in British history (1985, p.82.)

Gibbons: “Celticism” … was an attempt by a colonial power to hypostasise an alien, refractory culture in order to define it within its own controlling terms (1991, 568.)

William Preston [58]; Smyth comments: ‘There is a tension between wishing to disown the badge of subordination (Irishman) and desiring to demonstrate their ability for cultural and political leadership by trafficking in valuable cultural currency to which they, as particular kinds of (Anglo-) Irishmen, have access.’ (ibid., p.59).

the Anglo-Irishman Preston, on the other hand, argues for irregularity, accusing those who adhere to the clasical code of “pedantry” and “servile imitation”. [idem]

‘the brilliant Charlotte Brooke’ [61]

The main problem was that antiquarianism was still in its infancy in the eighteenth century and its research techniques were not yet equal to the primary sources of Irish history. Until they became so, thanks to the work of nineteenth-century scholars, antiquarianism would remain the province of speculative amateurs like Walker himself. In the meantime, antiquarian discourse functioned to reproduce an Anglo-Irish identity which was simultaneously dominant and subordinate, for while the words on the page remained the same, the text offered various reading experiences to various strategically located subjects. It was the fate of the Anglo-Irish Patriots, however, to exist in a cultural and political formation which positioned them on the interface between antagonistic categories, rendering them radically insecure, simultaneously enabled and disabled, both coloniser and colonised. In terms of decolonisation, the one lasting achievement of Walker and like-minded Patriot critics was to broach the possibility of a resistance founded on something other than equality with England. [64]

Ferguson’s criticism of James Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy … represents a comprehensive statement of Anglo-Irishness while also constituting one of the msot skilful attempts to square the circle of modern (Anglo-)Irish critical theory. [65]

IDIOM: Anglo-Irish position was shot through with contradictions on many levels [63]

for Anglo-Irish descendants the Union as unacceptable (and illegal) breach of Irish sovereignty [65] NOTE, false.

[..] Hardiman has attempted to appropriate the quality of Irishness to construct an exclusivist, antagonistic postion which would deny Anglo-Ireland a role in the national hsitory. At the same time, Ferguson is aware of the reasons for such a manoeuvre, and is both emotionally and intelectually attracted by the historical and aesthetic arguemtns underpinning it. [66]; made use of whatever was to hand … to construct a powerful position for the national fraction he represented … in spite of Catholic Irish agitation and English reform. [66]

[I]t is with the 300-word coda insterted at the end as a technical addendum to the opening critique that Ferguson attempts to insinuate the anglo-Irish into a leading role in national discourse: ‘The main difficulty, and one which is in some cases insurmountable, consists in the multitude of words in the original forrning a measure which f equently does not afford room for more than half the English expressions requisite for their adequate translation. This arises from the ellipsis of aspirated consonants and concurrent vowels, which frequently slurs three or four words into a single dactyl, and compresses the meanings into so small bounds, that the translator is driven either to lengthen the measure, and thus make his version incompatible with the tune of the original, if a song, and indeed with its spirit and character in any case, or else to double each stanza, and by a dilation as prejudicial to the genius of his subject as the over compression of too strict adherence, to lose the raciness of translation in the effete expansion of a paraphrase. (‘Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy’, DUM, Nov. 1834, p.529)’

NOTE: does he make enough of Ferguson’s being Protestant and the Jacobite themes of Minstrelsy? Or the class-aggression of Hardiman’s notes?

Davis opened up the national struggle on a whole new front [70]

Davis was a radical decolonising intellectual confronting head-on the difficulties of constructing Irish identity in the terms made available by the colonial power. One means of warding off the implications of this contradiction was through the construction of a critical ideology predicated on the interdependence of culture and geography. After Davis, it would be very difficult for anyone to discuss Irish literature or Irish nationalism without being aware of the ‘common sense’ linking these two seemingly symbiotic categories. The location of this ideological operation was Davis’s own discourse in which he employed the characteristic structures and codes of criticism to consolidate the ideology of a national literary tradition. [71]

On Yeats: he hoped to maintain the centrality of Anglo-Ireland to the emerging modern Irish nation by engaging in a critical discourse through which he could define the relationship between culture and nation, and those shape what could legitimately be said about each. [73].

Criticism must vindicate Anglo-Irish experience by having a relationship with its cultural object which is at once congruous and discrepant. [75]

Liberal-decolonising strategy of this kind was always going to be of only limited use in the construction of an irish identity and an Irish hsitory, because th eterms in which that identity and that history could be articulated were thoroughly informed by metropolitan values and the logic of supplementarity through which English colonialist discourse functioned. [76]

[Hyde] attemped to secure a future for his section by creating a myth of the ideal nation founded on linguistic purity and emotional attachment. [76] Unfortunately for Hyde, howver, having once initiated this discouse he finds it hijacked, its rules seized and redeployed, by those wishing to employ his anti-English tactic and to take the logic of Irish-Ireland to the extreme. [77; with ref. to Cairns and Richards, ‘Discourse and Resistance in Late and Early Twentieth Century Ireland, Text and Context, 2.1, Spring 1988, pp;76-84.]

‘One alternative to standard decolonising practices is associated with the “decadence” of Wilde and the aestheticist movement of contempoary Europe which finds its fullest anglophone formation in his work.’ [79]; ‘The very situation which allowed wilde to adopt and develop this attitude - his Irish “otherness” located at the heart of the metropolitan power - also denied him full access to a nomenclature dominated by cultural nationalism. And with his [80] exclusion an alternative critical politics, based upon an alternative version of the relationship between culture and politics, was lost.’ [81]

GS reveals his Connollyite roots [81]

Glamorises MacDonagh’s solution. ‘We have now so well mastered this language of our adoption that we use it with a freshness and power that the English of these days rarely have … The loss of [Gaelic] idiom and of literatutre is a disaster. But, on the other hand, that abandonment has broke a tradition of pedantry and barren conventions; and sincerity gains thereby. […] Let us postulate continuity, but continuity in the true way.’ (Literature, 1916, pp.196-70;

As an abstract linguistic tendency rather than an innate racial capacity, the “irish note” should be fully available to the Anglo-Irish in MacDonagh’s model of cultural production. The subtlety of this position is unrecognisable as the vulgar fundamentalist nationalism attacked by revisionist discourse. [83]

NOTE: The Irish Free State …. had a significant investment in cultural nationalism, founded on the ideology of a fully self-present national subject aware of her place in an ongoing national narrative and capable of intending and transmitting national meaning [83]

Joyce’s work is parodic, as many have remarked. But it is a subverse parody in which he has seixed the rules of dominant decolonising discourse and disrupted what he sees as its flawed identitarian message. The creative artist cannot escape the languages of liberal and radical decolonisation; [83]indeed, Joyce does not actually want to “escape” them as he remains affiliated to a certain notion of Irishness which can only be imagined in terms of those discourses. However, by exposing them as discourses, as formal and historical organisations of signs, he can displace them so as to ward off, at leat temporarily, the disabling structures into which they are locked. And the most disabling structure which Ulysses exposes is Irish literary criticism and the twin assumptions upon which it rests: a natural link between culture and nation, and a natural aporia between the primary (imaginative) and secondary (critical) discourses. [83-84]

O’Faolain … consistently decried the lack of ‘reality’ in Joyce’s work and the fact that his art ‘comes from nowhere, goes nowhere, and is not part of life at all.’ (Deming, 1970, 389-90; actually Colum.) O’Faolain say Joyce’s experiments with language and literature as ‘a revolt against the despotism of fact’ (Deming, 395-6; actually 398), thus recalling Matthew arnold’s Celticism discourse of half a century before, unaware, perhaps, of the implicit structure of power and knowledgte on which this discourse relied. (See Decolonisation and Criticism, Pluto Press 1997, p.85.)

NOTE, O’Faolain criticised Joyce’s later writings as ‘a revolt against the despotism of fact’; in citing this Gerry Smyth adds, ‘unaware, perhaps, of the implicit structure of power and knowledgte on which this discourse relied. (See Decolonisation and Criticism, Pluto Press 1997, p.85); note however that Smyth’s reading of the passage - incidentally marred by an erroneous page reference - overlooks the fact that O’Faolain praises the last paragraph of Anna Livia Plurabelle highly, viz.: ‘If Joyce had only written the entire book as he did the final paragraph, what a marvellous book it would be! If only he had accepted the inexorable truth that language is a very limited and imperfect medium - as he has with unparalleled courage accepted so many [397] of the other inexorable facts of life! But he is here very much of his racen … If there ever was an adventure which was a revolt agains the despotism offact this little book is one, and as such, if not as literature, it is priceless … (Irish Statemen, 5 Jan. 1929; Deming, 396-97); in this O’Faolain was responding to AE’s treatment of the publication as a book-collector’s item rather than a work of literature; O’Faolain’s reply - which also appeared as ‘Almost Music’ in Hound and Horn, Jan.-March 1929 - was in turn answered by Eugene Jolas in transition and identifcally in the Irish Statesman, arguing that Joyce was entitled to ‘create a vocabulary which is not only a deformation, but an amalgamation of numerous modern languges spoken in the world today.’ (Deming, 1970, Vol. 2, p.398); O’Faolain retorted with a letter addressed to Jolas invoking Pascal on artists who add nothing to nature or reality, and commenting on his own account: ‘The aesthetic, of half-aesthetic behind Anna Livia denies that art can add a jot to reality, and though Mr Joyce is welcome to the joy of that despair, from which no argument can raise him, I may be permitted to ask M. Jolas if he realises this?’ … M. Jolas is at fault. People do not create a vocabulary. [… &c.]’; goes on to say that Joyce is a ‘Romantic of the first water’, and ‘a Quixote whose terrible earnestness is his downfall’, but that ‘his great genius has saved him from utter failure.’ (Irish Statesman, 2 March, 1929; Deming, Vol. 2, p.400.)

‘The realistic aesthetic purveyed by O’Faolain throughout his critical and creative work was part of an early revisionist analysis of the recent revolutionary period. … O’Faolain misses the complexity and completeness of Joyce’s attack on a reality limited by a particular critical model of the relations between the cultural and political spheres.’ [85]

Beckett looks to mirror Joyce’s refusal to collapse the moment of writing into a pre-existent or exterior reality [86]

a criticism under erasure

‘Joyce’s resistance to Irish decolonisation takes the form of a challenge to a tradition of literary criticism organised around the notion of an indissoluble link between national culture and nationalist politics. [87]’ ‘In so far as he was an Irish writer, Joyce was a radical critic of English domination of Ireland; but in so far as he refused the limitations of both Irishness and Englishness, he managed to incorporate both these categories into a writing practice which itself refused incorporation into any dialectical discourse predicated on a subject who, like the critic, purports to stand outside his own constitution in discourse. After Joyce’s revolution of the word and [87] Ireland’s revolution of the sword, both the role of the national subject and the function of a critical discourse in which such a subject was constituted had to be renegotiated.’ [88]

The reasons for the persistence of (de)colonialist discursive modes in the ‘postcolonial’ era are both materialist and psychological, involving the national bourgeoisie’s continuing subservience to their former imperial masters, their desire to maintain thepower structures inherited from the colonial polity rather than instigate new civil and political programmes, and the national subject’s inability to imagine modes of thought beyond those which structured the narrative of decolonisation.. All told the ‘post’ in ‘postcolonial’ is a much more comples prpsoecct than it may at first appear, and in many important respects this reflects the situation one finds in Ireland’s first ‘postcolonial’ decades. [92]

Bodkin and Whitaker.

This pattern of genuine critique undone by the limtis of receive ddecolonising discourse is one we shall discover recurring thoughout Irish criticism of the 1950s.

SUMMARY OF JOYCE INDUSTRY: These factors were accompanied by the consolidation of the ‘Irish Literary Revival’ as an established area of international literary critical inquiry. This period witnessed the rise of specialist publications, conferences and symposia, biographies, critical studies and general academic engagement with the island’s modern literary heritage. It also saw the first work of many of the international scholars and critics who were to be influential in Irish Literary Studies over the next three decades - Richard Ellmann, A.N. Jeffares, Hugh Kenner, David Krause, William York Tindall, etc. - as well as the formation of a canon of Irish Literature which has remained more or less dominant to the end of the century, with Synge, Yeats, O’Casey, Joyce and Beckett at the centre, and a host of ‘minor’ figures at the margins. Like many of their fellows since, Irish critics of the 1950s were caught between resentment at this usurpation of their ‘patch’ and flattery that issues which were still of direct relevance to them were being paid such impressive intellectual attention (Arnold, 1991: 87-101). Often reduced to hackwork in the intellectually moribund atmosphere at home, many were happy to be drafted into these debates for their local knowledge and expertise. As a consequence, much of the domestic critical discourse of the period reveals a dialectical movement between scholarly pronouncement and anecdotal reportage. [97]

critics placed in terms of affiliations [99]

Emer Nolan: ‘After the departure of the imperialists, who are generally fairly recognsiable, the most important distinction to be drawn - and it is much more difficult one - is between those who are complicit with neo-colonialism and those who are not, whether they be former natives or former settlers.’ (James Joyce and Nationalism, Routledge, 1994, p.161.)

ON PAROCHIALISM: This acknowledgement of the universal in the local, the specific in the general, allowed Kavanagh to maintain a subversively ironic attitude towards life and literature as he experienced them in postcolonial Ireland. As such, the concept of parochialism developmed by him represents one of the first major attempts by an Irish intellectual since Joyce to introduce a qualifying perspective into the narrative of decolonisation. [108]

ON THE BELL: ‘Evaluation was not abandoned, but was generally disguised as a form of literary appreciation. The criticism was conducted in an urbane, humanist style which at its best could convey intelligent insight and comment, but frequently strayed into petty bellelettrism. [115]

The critic, located somewhere between the artist and the scientist, is the individual best placed to understand the ideas on which society relies to succeed; and for O’Faolain, Irish society should not be any different from British or American or French society. The power of O’Faolain’s discourse lies in its affectation of the sort of holistic insight possessed by pre-Revolutionary intellectuals such as Yeats or AE. In the psostcolonial era, however, this Arnoldian strategy (of which O’Faolain himself was one of the foremost practitioners is [116] in itself, regardless of immediate local insights, a tacit acknowledgement of metropolitan cultural leadership, as “Irish” experience looks to comprehend itself in the “universalist” terms made available by “non-Irish” sources. With the “thin society” affording so little material for creative work, critical discourse turned inwards and began to contemplate its own conditions of existence; in that very movement, howeverm, literary criticism engaged with the oppositional structures of decolonising thought which “postcolonial” Ireladn found so difficult to shake off. [117] NOTE: This is pure extrapolation.

The concept of regionalism was a recent importation from the United States where in the years after the civil war, those individuals and institutions lacking affiliation with the corporate state reacting to their marginalisation from the centres of intellectual discourse on the east and west coasts by s tressing the uniqueness of experience and tradition in the souther and mid-western states. Transposes into the context of Northern Ireland in the 1950s, regionalism was well equippped to spply the writer with a concept of community that escaped identification with the larger corporate communities to the sount and east. It was a unique, albeit fragile, solution to a fluid political situation, and one which, as long as it was never tested against a practical polical crisis, provided writers such as W. R. Rodgers, John Hewitt, George Buchanan and McFadden himself with a source and an imagined audience for their work.

Envoy attempted to offset the debilitating effects of a calcified nationalism by denying the culture/nation nexus and retreating into pure literary affiliation, Rann attempted to reformulate that link as “culture/region”, a tactic which left the journal in the curious tradition of having to invent and defend a living tradition simultaneously. [120]

Unlike Kavanagh’s Weekly, however, all the literary/critical journals examined in this section demonstrate an inability to develop beyond the terms made available in earlier modes of decolonisation [122]

*[I]n their drive to conform to international standards of research, Ireland’s professional scholars invested in a discourse which, in its implicit affirmation of the values of the élite cultures of Europe and America, was in fact fully implicated in colonialism. (Lloyd, 1987; Said, 1985). [123]

… guaranteed that the Republic of ireland remained at a number of crucual levels a colonised country. [123]

Cf. ‘Critics create not only the values by which art is judged and understood, but they embody in writing those processes and actual conditions in the present by means of which art and writing bear significance.’ (The World, The Text, and the Critic, 1983; rep. 1991, p.53; here 122.]

*Certain individuals, using a variety of specialist techniques and languages, are institutionally sanctioned to comment on a type of writing designated primary and valuable [124]

*patrolled the borders of Celtic studies … clique of ‘textperts’ with institutional power to pronounce on th value of interventions into the discourse. …oligarchy [124]

politically quietistic rejoinder [127] discursive technologisation and methodological fetishism [128]

politically quietistic stance of the professional sscholars compounded by the establishment of the DIAS in 1940

The emphasis on specialisation airly ignores, in the words of Edward Said, “the circumstnaces out of which all theory, system, and method ultimate derive.” (op. cit. 1991, p.26; here 129.)

Mercier: ‘The gulf between scholarship and criticism seems even wider and deeper in Ireland than in other countries. Those who criticise don’t know - those who know don’t criticise. In other words, our critics are too unscholarly, our scholars too uncritical or too indifferent to the common reader. (An Irish Schol of Criticism?’, in Studies, 1956, p.86; here 131).

Such a limited and interdependent community is particularly prone to absorption by the state. [131]

The foundation of Celtic Studies in 1940 may in fact ebe seen as the culmination of the movement in modern history form anti-hegemonic to hegemonic activity in the cultural-critical sphere - the point at which the nation’s licensed intellectuals mortgged their expertise to a state apparatus dependent on the maintenance of outmoded ideologies, thus contributing tot the domination of the most reactional elements in the postcolonial society. [131]

The postcolonial national imagined in these journals [Dublin magazine, Hermethena, Studies] had little to do with the bohemian artists of Grafton Street or the citizenry of the rural vilalge, or even the artifiical political divide between certain parts [132] of the island; rather, it was an abstract conception which thirty years on was still being articulated in the accents of Ireland’s colonial and revolutionary history. [133]

Of The Dublin Magazine: ‘Nationality, if it must be discussed at all, is an incidental factor in question so f ltierature, and excessive reliance on it as an aesthetic criterion represents a failure in education and taste. [134] HAVING IT BOTH WAYS!

Synge: ‘arguments concerning cultural imperialism and the nationalist drive towards cultural confidence through literary and linguistic independence. [135]

this journal’s inability to free itself from the constraints of colonialist discourse.

Rude comments: pseudo-critical … affiliation to an enlightened, educated community at home and abroad [136]

The rhetorical question which brings the piece to a close attempts to disguise the discrepancy between a canon of ‘Irish writers who have enriched the literature of the past …’ and those other Irish writers - many? Most? Who have not been sufficiently educated or intellectually endowed to raise themselves about their local experience to engage in issues of non-Irish, universal import. The drive for equality only serves to reconfirm the existence of difference. [136]

The Furrow (and its religious orientation): And as long as authentic irish experience could be identified so readily and so finally in terms of this one experience, the continuing restrictive influence of colonialist/decolonising discourse was guaranteed. [137]

O’Faolain can only formulate his examination of Irish hstory in terms of a univesalist narrative of “world civilisation”, a gesture which engages with (and thus reinforces) the boundaries between “racial” and non-racial experience. [198]

The Dublin Magaizine and Studies were affiliated to imaginary cosmopolitan and domestic audiences and shared their tendencies towards certain characteristics of class, education and religion. [138] [IF ‘IMAGINARY’, HOW ‘SHARED’]

On Coghill: Irish disbelief and English disinterest … hi-jacking of the national game by a larger, more powerful, but less deserving, section. [141]

Rather, the dogged adherence to certain models of Irishness and Anglo-Irishness (moderns which had their roots in the colonial period) perpetuated the structures of thought which had led to the contemporary situation, aresting the process of decolonisation just at the moment when it needed to gain some perspective upon its own possibility. [141]

Terence Brown refers to the writers of the 1950s as the ‘tragic generation’ of modern Irish letters, and this is borne out in the material examined in this chapter. [142] NOT SO.

One might have hoped that in the marginalised and often covert spaces of the postcolonial state there existed the best opportunity for decolonising subjects to imagine forms of critical engagement which might evade the insidious structure of received models. [145]

entrenched cultural national ethos [145]

Between 1948 and 1958, therefore, the issue of censorship was the site of a bitter struggle between those who had invested in the ideal of an organic and unchanging Irish, Gaelic, Catholic identity and [148] those dedicated to developing a national identity which would be not exhausted by those adjectives. / the debates … crystallised the hegemonic struggle between different strands of decolonisation, in the process helping to maintain the disabling dialectical nature of that discourse.

THESIS: It is my contention that the relationships between literature, criticism and nation which were sanctioned had a crucial impact on the fortunes of decolonisation during this period. [149]

age of mass consumption … the older paradigms of value and effectivity seemed no longer applicable. [149]

TCD … found itself as a small enclave representing the dwindling forces of Anglo-Irish tradtion, conservatism, Unionism and Protestantism, occupying a few hundred square metres of a country struggling to come to terms with its official postcolonial status. [150]

The individual talene was lest in no doubt of the ‘tradition’ within whci he was operating whenever English literature was the subject. [151]

encouraged to consider literature a primary cultural form for the expression and communication of timeless truths regarding the [153] human condition rather than a particular organisation of writing practices subject to specific contextual factors. [154]

The effect .. is to erase history from the critical encounter with the literary text excvept in so far as the essentially ahistoical determinants of the human condition might be revealed. [153]

TCD: By largely censoring at the curricular level undergraduate exposure to the range of althernative models of Irish literary discourse which had appeared over the course of the previous half century or so, the institution attempted to resist and deny the ongoing process of decolonistation on which a large part of the country had irrevocably embarked. [153]

[UCD] as with TCD there was no formal acknowledgement in the first two undergrad. Years of the development during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of the variety of models of the relationship bet ween ireland and literature in the English language. [154]

Like ever other contemporary critical space, then, UCD was attempting to come to terms with the paradox of irish literature in the English language. [155]

TCD: what it continued to refer to as ‘Anglo-Irish literature’ [156]

[confusion gripping the’s licensed intellectuals; 156]

in the Republic, where intellectual activity had traditionally arrogated to itself a key invertionary role in the nation’s identity, the NUI downgrading of humanistic discourse in favour of specialised research represented nothing less than a form of intellectual censorship. [159]

The relationship between literature and nation was retained, but was being ghettoised and marginalised beyond the point of effective intervention. [159]

[Senior Academics] controlled to a large extent a student’s capacity to impagein a range of alternative relationships between literature and Ireland [160]

[lists dissertation subjects 1951-53; 161]

typo Valle[n]cey [163]

What is eschewed … is the performative nature of anthological discourse - that is, the implicit cultural narrative of the texst is not presented in a finished form but is actively represented in the anthological moment; similarly, the tradition is not identified but actively constituted and re-created by the anthologist. The anthology then is not a mirror of how things were, but an intervention into how things are. [163]

Charles O’Conor the Elder [err 163] Cabinet 1906 [err for 1904]

cult of professionalism in the humanities [164]

the genre’s implicit canon-forming and tradition-forming properties, … [made] it difficult to put into practice (or even imagine) alternative models of decolonisation. [165]

shore up radical nationalism and to render natural that discourse’s highly contingent narrative of the relations between politics and culture. [165]

James Carney’s Poems of the O’Reillys (1950) ... appeared to ‘prove’ the existence of an unassailable, organic tradtion of iirsh literature which professional scholars such as Carney would reveal more fully and with ever-increasing accuracy. [165; misses the point that Carney’s anthology is a Duinaire]

By holding out the promise of a true Irish tradition, profesional scholarly discourse in Ireland in the 1950s left itself open to annexation by the conservative and reationary elements in the country who had already hijacked the revolution and now needed weapons to ward off the various challenges to their version of national history. With their professional aloofness and apparent conclusiveness, texts like Carney’s were ideal weapons in such hegemonic encounters as they revealed the tradition of Irish literature (and the political structures which it emplied) to be a fait accompli. [165]

anthologist’s arbitrary intervention [166]

Thomas Davis lectures … scholarly elite [167] buckleppin’ [168]

argues that the effect of ‘this kind of discourse’ was to adumbrate the “unique” Irish experience which had to be produced so that it could ne incorporated into a narrative of “universal” equality usually evoked the depiction of the Irish as colourful, wistful … all those disabling myths [168]

Hoagland [168]

the contradictory double-trope which demarcates a unique ‘Irish’ realm of discourse and then invokes its affiliation to a realm located somewhere outside national experience. [170; Note the workings of the inside/outside place trope here.]

contradictory trope of difference-in-equality [171; flawed reasoning; this is the trope of all internationalism.]

*Rather than broaching the possibility of an alternative relation to Irish literature, in fact, by [171] their adherence to the traditional dialectical structure of decolonising discourse these texts were implicated in the hegemony of that dominant conservative tradition. [172]

Irish authors commissioned by off-shore agents [172]

Such individuals then inhabited a space somewhere between the local and the universal, employing their unique intellectual resources to translate one into the other. At the same time it was in the interest of these individual writers to maintain the dividing line between national and no-national experience, as to a large extent their livelihoods, if not their identities, depended on the existence of these separate realms.

Dates and typos: prone to slippery fingers, particularly significant in view of the intext citation method. thus, for instance, a quotation from the introduction of greene and mercier’s anthology is cited in connection with the edition of 11953 when the first (and only) edition was in fact 1954, and is—fortunately—so listed in the bibliography.

Rather than cancelling each other out, then, the nationalist and universalist impulses in modern Irish literature are celebrated ‘… everywhere’. That is to say, the unique thing about Irish tradtion - the thing that makes it difference - is its universal appeal, its similarity to other traditions. The self-appointed role of the editors is to maintain focus on these contradictory impulses, while offering themselves as the intellectual subjects best equipped to identify one from the other. The contradictions of modern Irish identity are thus resolved in a stroke, and solved in such a way [as] to keep the literary intellectuals employed indefinitely as they set about the now crucial task of separaint the unique from the general, the national from the universal.’ [173]

international scholarly élite which began to dominate the study of modern Irish literature [179]

the Industry [179]

Such critical practice … had important ramifications for Irish decolonisation during the 1950s. [182; he means implication; jargon and variants on]

the monograph itself, with its great length and capacity to engage a reader’s intellectual faculties, could be employed as a tactic in the struggle between the various versions of national identity. [182]

As a consequence, the dialectical model of decolonisation which had dominated modern Irish -related literary criticism was unlikely to be questioned. [182]

The connection [182] … between critic, writer, and audience, so prized by the intellectuals of the revolutionary period, was sacrficied to universalist principles which allow4ed the off-shore subject a dominant role in Irish critical discourse. [183]

Much depended on the intellectual make-up of the particular Irish critic and the contexts in which she was looking to intervene. [183]

Sean MacBride and the Cultural Relations Committee [183]

Whiel the Cultural Relations Committee series may have seemed like a willingnes on the part of those in power to review national identity as shaped by cultural experience, it actually represented a belated effort on the part of the state to produce legitimate credentials in an important area of national experience, while simultaneously looking to intervene in the range and nature of that experience. As such, it is a typical strategy of the nationalist [sic] bourgeoisie, indicative of the need to harness important decolonising discourses such as literature and remove their potentially dangerous capacity to intervene in matters of national importatnce, while retaining their prestige and affective powers. [184]

Corkery: By postulating an organic link between culture and politics, between poetry and the people, Corkery’s discourse works in a different way from that of Knott, although substantially towards the same end: towards, that is, the confirmation of a continuous cultural tradtion founded on a distinct, unique Irish identity. […] Corkery “covers” the primary “real” reationship between Irish language and life with his own “unreal” secondary discourse. At the same time the fact that he must argue these truths in a written form is an argumen aginast natural convergence between language and life in Ireland, past and present. [p.186]

[Goes on to compaire Derrida’s critique of Plato’s contradictory strategy in the Phaedra} The problem for Plato and Corkery … [187]

Austin Clarke [187] one of the dominant literary-affiliated intellectuals in the post-revolutionary era … major poetic voice … wide-ranging … implying a readership already familiar with certain developments in Irish cultural and political history. At the same time, it is difficult to discover any informing argument or position in the text. … the author appears to be playing the “!grand old man” of Irish letters (although he was only fifty five, at the time of writing), relating a narrative rfrom which he, as organiser and orchestrator, remains coolly aloof. [187]

It is not amenable to extraction, as there is hardly any passae in whith the author sustains a critical point or rishks any kind of judgement, subjective or scholarly.

Refusing to invest subjectively in Irish cultural debate, Clarke the poet-critic attempts to step outside history … fails to appreciate that such a manoeuvre can only take place in history and that in spite of its bland tone and apparently non-committed stance, Poetry in Modern Ireland in fact constituted a highly political intervention into the debate on decolonisation with which its subject matter - Irish ltierary history - was already linked. [...] The fact that, as one of Ireland’s more famous modern writers, he has been unproblematically recruited by the state, only compounds this interpretation. [188]

McLiammoir - fails to mention that he’s English.

Written from within a stae-affiliated initiative, Theatre in ireland at least demonstrated a partial grasp of the need to seize the rules of dominant discourse and rework them so that they can be redeployed for alternative cultural and political ends. [190]

If the reader is not aware of the codes and assumptions on which that conversation is based, she is discursively disabled, unlikely to catch the significance of this particular intervention. [192]

discursive demarcation and policing of personnel … Of course the ‘truth’ might be that there was no such thing as and “Irish Tradition”, cultural or political. [193]

priestly aura [193]

longer format … allow the writer to develop an argument at length and activate the reader’s creative faculties [195]

the primary search for truth which animated scholarly discourse could serve as a model for critics from outide the scholarly domain. In spite of some concessions to the narrative propensities of the book-form, however, historical shcolarship at this time contined to fetishise method as the royal road to the truth of Irish tradition. [197]

There would appear, then, to have been a problem at this time for the Irish critic who adopted international critical techniques. Whereas the foreign status of the American or British critic could potentially undermine the concept of a unique local identity, the national critic could only confirm the discrepancy between her critical practice and literary subject, thus slipping back into the struggle between two already-existing narratives of decolonisation. So, whereas a foreign critic employing foreign methods to talk about Irish literature might unsettle those narratives, an Irish critic employing foreign methods to talk about Irish literature could be re-absorbed unproblematically into a narrative of difference-versus-equality. Thus, the outmoded choice between liberal and radical decolonisation, might be once again confirmed. [201]

Like Kiely, then, the juxtaposition of ‘foreign’ elements (the book-form, the subject, the critical methodology) and ‘local’ elements (Sean O’Faolain as famous critic, the work of More, Joyce, etc., as part of this the is) threatens to undermine traditional decolonising ideology; like Kiely again, however, the inability or unwillingness of O’Faolain to displace the opposition betweeen ‘foreign’ and ‘local’ experience ultimately means tha his work can be reclaimed by that ideology. [204]

Arland Ussher: threatening to fracture the discursive boundaries between Irish and non-Irish experience and introduce an measure of ironic displacement into the narrative of Irish decolonisation [204]

praises Ussher but then, oddly, treats him as the exception that proces the rule. [207]

Irish literary criticism [in the 1950s] failed to imagine a new agenda, or construct a new language, for its debates. [207].

Recurrent terms: insinuate; site place position; intervene; famous; INDIVIDUALS; certain individuals

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