Literary Landscapes of Ireland: Geographies of Irish Stories, 1929-1946

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This piece of literary geography examines the relationship between landscape and identity in the works of nine Irish writers who published English language novels between 1929-1946. Focusing upon the distinct lebenswelt experiences and depictions by these Irish writers, an engagement with Mikhail Bakhtin’s ‘Historical Poetics’ sets the periodicity of early post- independent and partioned Ireland in rhythm with the distinct senses of place and spaces of culture to which each writer’s works give birth. This book contains four color photographs.


“This book offers a highly evocative read for scholars in the entire spectrum of the human sciences. Among its most eager readers in twenty-first century Europe may be those twentieth century emigrants who returned ‘home,’ after many years of longing, to discover dramatically transformed - and often unwelcoming — ‘chronotopes.’ This book could yield an important on lesson potential connections between liminality and creativity.” – Professor Emeritus Anne Buttimer, University College Dublin

“. . . should be required reading for anyone interested in the relationship between people and place in Ireland but also those interested in the use of literature as a source for exploring culture and society.” – Dr. Mark Hennessy, Trinity College Dublin

“Dr. Travis writes in a rapidly emerging and popular interdisciplinary genre —literary geography. His book would be welcomed in research libraries and destined to reside on the bookshelves of many humanists, social scientists — not a few natural scientists -- and lovers of the Emerald Isle in general. Erudite aficionados of Ireland will find it irresistible—and for good reason: literary geographies of which this [work] is exemplary meld diverse disciplinary interests through the combination of (more like the alchemical outcome of) geographical savvy and literary heat.” – Prof. David J. Nemeth, Univeristy of Toledo

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword Professor Anne Buttimer
1. Ireland 1929-1946, Mapping Literature and Place
Writers and period
Ireland: 1922-1945
From Saorstát to Eire
A Protestant Parliament
A Protestant State Censorship
‘flux and uncertainty’
The Practice of Literary Geography
Conceptualising a Literary Geography
Historical Poetics
Towards a ‘Sense of Place’
Irish Writers: 1929-1946
2. Rumours from the Lower Hills, Peadar O’Donnell
Representing the ‘West’
Adrigoole (1929)
The Lower Hills
The Hiring Fair
The Bog
The Knife (1930)
The Valley
Activist & Oglach
Wrack (1933)
The Island
The Sea
An Caoineadh (The Keening)
Deconstructing the ‘Idyll’
3. Poetry of the Fields, Patrick Kavanagh
The Green Fool (1938)
The Lore of Place
The Great Hunger (1942)
Lifecourse wordscapes
4. Elysium & Exile, Forrest Reid and Michael McLaverty
Forrest Reid: ‘Crying for Elysium’
Uncle Stephen (1931)
Space of Genius Loci
The Retreat or the Machinations of Henry (1936)
Ruins and Graveyards
Spectral Landscapes
Michael McLavery: Emigration and Exile
Rathlin Island
Short Stories (1933-1937)
Call My Brother Back (1939)
Elysium & Exile
5. House Islands, Elizabeth Bowen and Molly Keane
Elizabeth Bowen: ‘A Culture in Decline’
The Last September (1929)
Molly Keane I M. J. Farrell: ‘Estate of Living Memory’
Mad Puppetstown (1931)
The Golden Age
The War
The Free State
Place and Memory
‘The House-Island’
6. The Provincial Town, Kate O’Brien
The Irish ‘Petty-Bourgeois Town’ 1789-1937
Pray for the Wanderer (1938)
The ‘Historical Poetics’ of Saorstát ‘Mellick’
The Politics of Sexuality and Censorship
‘Archaism and Ruin’
7. City of Word and Space, Flann O’Brien
At Swim Two Birds (1939)
Lefebvre’s Spatiologies
Le Percu’ (everyday life)
Le Vecu (lived space of the real-and-imagined)
Lower Leeson Street (Red Swan Hotel)
Ringsend Cowboys (Cattle N Ranch)
Pearse Street (Palace Cinema)
Urban Thresholds
8. Beyond the Cartesian Pale, Samuel Beckett
More Pricks Than Kicks (1934)
Murphy (1938)
The Cartesian Comedy
Magdalen Mental Mercyseat
Saint-Lô (1945)
Le Fin (1946)
Beyond the Cartesian
9. Irish Literary Geographies, 1929-1946
Deconstructing the ‘Idyll’
Lifecourse Wordscapes
Spectral Lanscapes
The Island and Peripherality
The ‘House-Island’
‘Archaism and Ruin’ -The Provincial Town
Urban Thresholds
Beyond the Cartesian