Abstract

Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent (1800) relates the genealogy of the various Irish squires, and after reading this short novel King George iii reportedly said, “I know something now of my Irish subjects.” This article focuses on the issue of knowing, specifically knowing the Irish subject. I argue that knowledge and the processes of identification in the novel are ultimately made unintelligible by the gap between the different standards and practices of oral and literary cultures. To call the narrator Thady Quirk, the family retainer at Castle Rackrent, an unreliable narrator fails at marking how fundamentally his narration undermines every convention of the realist novel. Castle Rackrent is best understood as owing a profound debt to the virtuoso oral performance of Anglo-Gaelic culture.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 115-130
Launched on MUSE
2009-10-10
Open Access
No
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