Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

A Portrait of the Rebel as an Artist: Deconstructing Post-Coloniality in Francis Stuart's Black List, Section H

Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

A Portrait of the Rebel as an Artist: Deconstructing Post-Coloniality in Francis Stuart's Black List, Section H

Article excerpt

Among Subjective men (in all those, that is, who must spin a web out of their bowel) the victory is an intellectual daily recreation of all that exterior fate snatches away; while what I have called 'the mask' is an emotional antithesis to all that comes out of their internal nature.

William Butler Yeats, The Trembling of the Veil 1922: 74.

Introduction

For Fredric Jameson, the 1960s were the "transitional period, a period in which the new international order (neo-colonialism, the Green Revolution, [...]) is at one and the same time set in place and is swept and shaken by its own internal contradictions and by external resistance" (Jameson 1998: 3). Ireland was not much of an outsider to the ubiquitous rise of this international order, as the 1960s marked the beginning of socio-cultural revolutions whereby the Irish re-discovered their rooted individualism. (1) Moreover, it was the very same period, as Augustine Martin aptly identifies in "Inherited Dissent", that the Irish and the Irish society converged yet for the second time after the revival at the "crossroad" of literature (1965: 13). Having been disconcerted by residues of conservatism, the Irish were led by this fissure to welcome and instrumentalize the novel as a historically aware critical discourse, narrating the nation's plights of individual formation overshadowed by national independence.

As Declan Kiberd claims, in Ireland while the 1920s and the 1930s were about introspection, and the 1940s and the 1950s about socio-cultural introversion, the 1960s, and especially 1965 onwards, witnessed a revolution in the nation's perception of individual and national identity (1997: 471-80). Rebellious voices channelled through the critical discourse of the novel, and critiqued a State-sponsored voice of internal othering and narratives of decolonization. (2) According to Gerry Smyth, "the Irish subject", split between such conservative extremes, "functioned as an effect of this or that narrative, placed here or there depending on where the commentator started, the direction he took, and his imagined destination" (1999: 212).

To maintain its currency as a medium of socio-cultural criticism, the modern Irish novel must first challenge and subvert yet another socio-political obstacle, namely, the oppressive society normalized by the State. As Kevin Kiely identifies, narratives that tend to replace the State's politics of formation with a personalized account of individual formation generally share a similar fate, namely, receiving "negative [and] disheartening" responses from not only various political parties, publishers, and numerous Censorship Acts but also readers as the very components of society (2008: 243). Socio-culturally nonconformist modern Irish authors such as Francis Stuart, Flann O'Brien, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, to name but a few, in this respect, were further bracketed by society's dualistic preference either as "monarch[s] of Irish letters" or absurdist "outsider[s]" (Kiely 2008: 242). Through the critical discourse of the novel (of formation), for instance, these critics tap into socio-politically conscious memories that, as Linda Hutcheon claims, enable the nation to "transcontextualize" their historical memory, namely, revisiting the past and restructuring their perception of critical concepts such as national identity and formation, racial and ideological intolerance, and a marginalized understanding of individual formation (2000:102).

In this article, by examining Francis H. Stuart's "self-reflexive tongue-in-cheek" Black List, Section H (1971) and John McGahern's The Dark (1965), firstly I will identify the modern voices that challenged the sociopolitical, and educational boundaries that were established by the State and legitimized by the Constitution (Cleary 2007: 175). Secondly, I will explore the dividing line that appeared between these non-conformist voices, splitting them into critics who sought a liberated definition of Irishness rooted in the revolutionary principles of the men of 1916, and those who distanced their principles of formation from, for instance, the State only to gain social recognition, and political and commercial success. …

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