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​Research News | 3 books on Irish Literature published by SoH Faculty in 2018

Published on: 04-Dec-2018

Three major books on Irish writers were published during the last year by 3 English faculty members. These books focus on the work of James Joyce (Richard Barlow), Samuel Beckett (Michelle Chiang), and John Banville (Neil Murphy), respectively, and represent diverse approaches to these three major writers.  More details below.

Beckett's Intuitive Spectator: Me to Play

By Michelle Chiang

Beckett’s Intuitive Spectator: Me to Play investigates how audience discomfort, instead of a side effect of a Beckett pedagogy, is a key spectatorial experience which arises from an everyman intuition of loss. With reference to selected works by Henri Bergson, Immanuel Kant and Gilles Deleuze, this book charts the processes of how an audience member’s habitual way of understanding could be frustrated by Beckett’s film, radio, stage and television plays. Michelle Chiang explores the ways in which Beckett exploited these mediums to reconstitute an audience response derived from intuition.

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The Celtic Unconscious: Joyce and Scottish Culture

by Richard Barlow

The Celtic Unconscious offers a vital new interpretation of modernist literature through an examination of James Joyce’s employment of Scottish literature and philosophy, as well as a commentary on his portrayal of shared Irish and Scottish histories and cultures. Barlow also offers an innovative look at the strong influences that Joyce’s predecessors had on his work, including James Macpherson, James Hogg, David Hume, Robert Burns, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The book draws upon all of Joyce’s major texts but focuses mainly on Finnegans Wake in making three main, interrelated arguments: that Joyce applies what he sees as a specifically “Celtic” viewpoint to create the atmosphere of instability and skepticism of Finnegans Wake; that this reasoning is divided into contrasting elements, which reflect the deep religious and national divide of post-1922 Ireland, but which have their basis in Scottish literature; and finally, that despite the illustration of the contrasts and divisions of Scottish and Irish history, Scottish literature and philosophy are commissioned by Joyce as part of a program of artistic “decolonization” which is enacted in Finnegans Wake. The Celtic Unconscious is the first book-length study of the role of Scottish literature in Joyce’s work and is a vital contribution to the fields of Irish and Scottish studies. This book will appeal to scholars and students of Joyce, and to students interested in Irish studies, Scottish studies, and English literature.

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John Banville (Contemporary Irish Writers Series)

By Neil Murphy

John Banville offers a close analysis of most of Banville’s major novels, as well as the ‘Quirke’ crime novels he has written under the pseudonym, Benjamin Black and his dramatic adaptations of Heinrich von Kleist’s plays. From the beginning, Banville’s work has been marked both by the presence of a complex, embedded discourse about the significance of art and by a concurrent self-conscious obsession with its own status as art. His novels perpetually reveal an overt fascination with the visual arts, in particular, and with the aesthetic principle of literature as art. This study argues that, as a whole, Banville’s work presents an elaborate and richly-textured coded account of his relationship with art and with the self-referential fictional world that his novels have conjured. It is from this critical context that John Banville’s central argument is derived.

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