Out of the Earth
Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Cork University Press
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With one exception, the main texts discussed in this collection were written over the last century and a quarter. Despite their relatively recent origin, however, many of these works also take as their essential subject matter the deep history of the Irish land and people. They seem determined above all to delve beneath conventional or sentimental images of...
Wings beating on stone: Richard Murphy’s ecology
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Of the new generation of poets who emerged with Dublin’s Dolmen Press in the 1950s, Richard Murphy is the only poet to have been born in the west of Ireland. His 2000 volume of Collected Poems is an impressive and varied achievement, essential reading for all with an interest in Irish writing and, in its exploration of the west of Ireland, County Galway in...
Dark outlines, grey stone: Nature, home and the foreign in Lady Morgan’s The Wild Irish Girl and William Carleton’s The Black Prophet
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Nineteenth-century literary figures of the landscape, particularly those of Lady Morgan’s novel The Wild Irish Girl (1806) and William Carleton’s story ‘Wildgoose Lodge’ (1830) and novel The Black Prophet (1847), reflect a growing consciousness of political and social upheaval in the decades leading up to the Great Hunger. Such figures of the landscape...
‘Sympathy between man and nature’: Landscape and loss in Synge’s Riders to the Sea
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In 1899 John Millington Synge was nearly thrown from a small boat into raging swells off the island of Inis Meáin. ‘[T]he green waves curled and arched themselves above me; then in an instant I was flung up into the air and could look down on the heads of the rowers, as if we were sitting on...
‘Nothing can happen nowhere’: Elizabeth Bowen’s figures in landscape
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Elizabeth Bowen (1899–1973) was a writer for whom places, especially her native Ireland, were as important as people. Yet most studies of Bowen’s landscapes are studies of setting, not of how her writing characterises relationships between people and places. Bowen was intimately connected to her own country house, Bowen’s Court, which she inherited, later sold and, to her distress, saw demolished. She moved...
George Moore’s landscapes of return
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Several critical editions have recently emphasised the need to reconsider some of literature’s overlooked spaces – both environmental and textual. Two editors frame the project in these terms: ‘One way ecocriticism can and should widen its range of topics is to pay more consistent attention to texts that revolve around [. . .] less obviously “natural” landscapes, and...
Ireland of the welcomes: Colonialism, tourism and the Irish landscape
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Responding to a Modern Language Association ‘call for comments on the growing importance and expanding scope of the fields of environmental literature and ecological literary criticism’, the critic Jonathan Levin argued at length in favour of the situated nature of experience. Clearly eschewing the historical binarism of culture versus nature, Levin contends that ‘our bodies, our language, our sociocultural environment all...
Between country and city: Paula Meehan’s ecofeminist poetics
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In her 1999 stage play, Cell, Paula Meehan presents four Irish women whose only access to the nonhuman world of nature is through a prison window. Within the microcosm of the cell, a class system has developed where heroin dealer Delo dominates and exploits her young cell-mates by using their drug addictions to force them to perform sexual favours and smuggle messages. Making use of the nonhuman in much the same...
‘Love Poems, Elegies: I am losing my place’: Michael Longley’s environmental elegies
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In an interview with Fran Brearton, then a student at the University of Durham, Michael Longley was asked to discuss the closing lines of his book The Ghost...
‘Becoming animal’ in the novels of Edna O’Brien
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In 1897, Alice Stopford Green, pioneering feminist, Irish nationalist and historian, whose historiography ‘wrote women back into the narrative’, made a now-forgotten contribution to what was then ‘the still young discussion of woman’s place in...
Reading the landscape for clues: Environment in Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
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In Roddy Doyle’s novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha ecological destruction and urban sprawl form a poignant trope for the futurelessness of postmodern Ireland. Doyle’s work mirrors these widespread changes in Irish society in the distressing social transitions in Paddy Clarke’s friendships and his family. Early criticism from Brian Cosgrove and Keith Booker rightly focuses on the images of American popular culture as well as the fear of...
Collaborative ecology in Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan
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The three islands that constitute the Aran Islands – Inisheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore – occupy a unique and dual position of marginality and liminality; they not only reside off the border of the western coast of Ireland but also inhabit an indeterminate space between America and Europe. The...
Mindful paths: An interview with Tim Robinson
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This collection concludes with the words of Tim Robinson, a writer, cartographer and artist who, since the early 1970s, has mindfully mapped the Aran and Connemara regions of Ireland’s west. Through sensorial engagement, Robinson calls upon Connemara’s stories, charts taxonomies of local habitat, maps walking paths and captures unfinished narratives of surrounding...
Notes and references
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Page Count: 286
Publication Year: 2010