Modernism, Ireland, and the Erotics of Memory

Modernism, Ireland, and the Erotics of Memory

Modernism, Ireland, and the Erotics of Memory

Modernism, Ireland, and the Erotics of Memory


Nicholas Miller re-examines memory and its role in modern Irish culture. Asserting that a continuous renegotiation of memory is characteristic of Irish modernist writing, he investigates a series of case-studies in modern Irish historical imagination. He reassesses Ireland's self-construction through external or "foreign" discourses such as the cinema, and proposes new readings of Yeats and Joyce as "counter-memorialists." This original study attracts scholars of Modernism, Irish studies, film and literary theory.


To give an accurate description of what has never occurred is … the proper occupation of the historian.

Oscar Wilde The Critic as Artist

It may no longer be possible to speak and write of “Ireland. ” Amid the vast cultural and economic shifts of the last decade, the Irish Republic has emerged as something unfamiliar: an international economic power asserting its political will on the European continent, marketing its own culture through a powerful indigenous film and media industry, and staking its claim to a high-tech manufacturing future powered by multinational corporate investment. It makes far more sense to speak now of a “global Ireland” as the country has become, for the first time in its history, a destination of choice not only for tourists but for jobseekers, investors, and international businesses selling everything from microchips to ketchup. the old familiar touchstones of Irish experience and identity have come to seem oddly dislocated in this context. It is not simply that “Kerry Gold” and other registered trademarks have displaced St. Patrick, shamrocks, and the color green as authentic signifiers of Irishness. After centuries spent in embattled pursuit of independence in its many elusive forms – economic prosperity, political autonomy, religious and geographic unification, historical atonement – Irish culture has quite suddenly begun to shed its identification with struggle as its principal and defining characteristic.

Observers weary of wandering the barbed and tangled thickets of the country's long colonial and post-colonial past have, quite logically, leapt at the chance finally to announce that at long last Ireland is coming into its own. Witness Irish Times journalist Fintan O'Toole's assertion that in the mid-1990s, “arguably for the first time in recorded Irish history, it became possible to understand the Republic of Ireland without reference to Britain. It was no longer possible to blame British colonialism . . .

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