The Comic Tradition in Irish Women Writers

The Comic Tradition in Irish Women Writers

The Comic Tradition in Irish Women Writers

The Comic Tradition in Irish Women Writers

Synopsis

"In an examination of the prose and poetry of Irish women writers from the late eighteenth century through the present, contributors to this collection argue that a hidden tradition of women's comedy has evolved side by side with the canonical comic tradition. They call for a revisionist reading of Ireland's comic intellectual heritage - a reading from the perspectives of two genders - and demand a new kind of double optic - an interpretive frame of reference capable of grappling with difference. This collection will be of particular interest to Joyceans because it examines the influence of Joyce, who has been dismissed by many feminist critics as a pornographer and a champion of patriarchal privilege. It will also be of interest to students of African and African-American literature for its linking of Ireland's comic tradition to that of Africa's - a tradition noted for its use of ethical dialogue and for giving voice to the other." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Theresa O'Connor

Tradition is the practice of ceaselessly excavating, safeguarding, violating, discarding and reinscribing the past. . . . history is not a fair copy, but a palimpsest, whose deleted layers must be thrust to light.

Terry eagleton

In The Signifying Monkey, Henry Louis Gates draws on a Yoruba tale entitled "The Two Friends" to illustrate the bifocal hermeneutic impulse at the heart of the African (and African-American) comic tradition. the story, which has at its center the dual-gendered trickster figure Esu-Elegbara, tells of two friends who had vowed eternal friendship to one another without taking Esu into account. in order to teach them a lesson, Esu donned a black and white hat and rode between them as they worked in the fields. Thus, while one man saw only the black side of the hat, the other saw only the white side. Later, a violent argument arose between the friends as to the color of the stranger's hat. in the midst of the uproar Esu returned, and, admonishing the friends for their base and foolish conduct, s/he showed them the two-colored hat. As Gates notes, this story "ascribes to Esu his principal function of the indeterminacy of interpretation. . . . the folly depicted here is to insist -to the point of rupture of the always fragile bond of a human institution -- on one determinate meaning, itself determined by vantage point and the mode one employs to see" (35). Gates goes on to argue that . . .

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