By Glenda Norquay, Gerry Smyth
Around the Margins deals a comparative, theoretically proficient research of the cultural formation of the Atlantic Archipelago. In its total perception and in particular contributions, this assortment demonstrates the advantages of operating around the disciplines of heritage, geography, literature, and cultural experiences. It additionally offers new configurations of cultural kinds hitherto linked to particularly nationwide and sub-national literatures.
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Extra info for Across The Margins: Cultural Identity and Change in the Atlantic Archipelago
Michelet frankly acknowledges the attraction of ‘warmth’ over ‘light’; light being a ‘critical idea [which] implies culture and brightness’, while warmth is ‘a phenomenon of depth; it is the sign of the mass, of the innumerable, of the people, of the barbarian’ (Barthes 1987 : 184). And so it is that the ‘voice of the people affords Michelet a warmer memory that is more “linked together” than all the writings of the legislators and witnesses’ (Barthes 1987 : 82). 6 The tension between scholasticism and the people can be figured in these terms, as they are for Michelet when in self-contemplation, and as they are in Joyce’s Ithacan meeting of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, as I suggest later.
The drama of Michelet’s descent from his study is also personal, in the most fundamental of ways. It is Michelet who feels the need for ‘the people’ (to an extent it is Michelet who labels and identifies ‘the people’), just as it is Michelet who is jarred by the ‘impossible language’ which keeps the people ‘inaccessible’ (Barthes 1987 : 188); Michelet ‘sees himself as feeble, unhealthy’ (Moriarty 1991: 187), and, in the urinal, his abjection is a dramatised ontological crisis in which Michelet’s ‘self’ competes for priority with the idea of ‘the people’ which induces his crisis.
Kiberd, for example, finds Ireland emerging triumphant in a form of orality which is a ‘tradition’ set in motion alongside the ‘bookishness’ Norquay_03_Ch2 41 22/3/02, 9:46 am 42 Theorising identities also found in Ulysses, with the balance ‘tilted finally towards the older tradition’ (1995: 355). Emer Nolan suggests of Finnegans Wake that [when] ALP-as-river joins the sea, something specific is lost in an oceanic chaos. As with her, so with Ireland. Both have entered the devil’s era of modernity, liberated into difference, lost to identity.