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Strange CountryModernity and Nationhood in Irish Writing since 1790$
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Seamus Deane

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198184904

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184904.001.0001

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National Character and the Character of Nations

National Character and the Character of Nations

Chapter:
(p.49) TWO National Character and the Character of Nations
Source:
Strange Country
Author(s):

Seamus Deane

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184904.003.0002

There is a vast body of writing in the nineteenth century on the character of nations which is scarcely distinguishable from the equally vast literature on national character. The character of nations is thematized repeatedly in nineteenth-century writing as the explanatory element in the story of a progression from the narrow ambit of the national place into the new territory or space of the state. National character, on the other hand, is often featured as a controlling voice in a recalcitrant community narrative that refuses, with decreasing success, to surrender its particularities, to yield itself either to the state or to any comparable transnational goal. Central to the nationalist position were the claims that Ireland was a culturally distinct nation, that it had been mutilated beyond recognition by British colonialism, but, also, that it could nevertheless rediscover its lost features and thereby recognize once more its true identity.

Keywords:   famine, Ireland, national character, The Collegians, Thomas Davis, Dracula

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