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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 7: British and Irish Fiction Since 1940$
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Peter Boxall and Bryan Cheyette

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198749394

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198749394.001.0001

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In the Wake of Joyce: Irish Writing after 1939

In the Wake of Joyce: Irish Writing after 1939

(p.174) 11 In the Wake of Joyce: Irish Writing after 1939
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Michael G. Cronin

Oxford University Press

This chapter maps the mid-century period of the Irish novel in terms of the various aesthetic choices which Irish writers took as they contended imaginatively with the contradictions and conundrums of modernity, and the specific form which these took in a postcolonial society. After all, James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939) destroyed the conventions of literary realism in a carnivalesque conflagration. He also dismantled the linguistic structures of intelligibility that uphold this mode of representation, yet he simultaneously produced an interfusion of Irish history with world history and of world history with global myth. Thus, this chapter conceives of a distinction between experimentation and realism as a performative rather than a constative assertion. The advantage of this model is that it not only recalibrates the distinction between realism and modernism in Irish writing, but also dissolves any clean division between Irish writers critically surveying the condition of modern Ireland.

Keywords:   James Joyce, Irish novel, Irish writing, Irish writers, postcolonial society, experimentation, realism, modernism, modern Ireland

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