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By Professor Claire Connolly

Claire Connolly deals a cultural historical past of the Irish novel within the interval among the unconventional decade of the 1790s and the gaining of Catholic Emancipation in 1829. those many years observed the emergence of a bunch of gifted Irish writers who constructed and complicated such leading edge varieties because the nationwide story and the historic novel: fictions that took eire as their subject and surroundings and which regularly imagined its heritage through family plots that addressed wider problems with dispossession and inheritance. Their openness to modern politics, in addition to to fresh historiography, antiquarian scholarship, poetry, track, performs and memoirs, produced a sequence of outstanding fictions; marked such a lot of all through their skill to model from those assets a brand new vocabulary of cultural identification. This publication extends and enriches the present figuring out of Irish Romanticism, mixing sympathetic textual research of the fiction with cautious old contextualization.

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Extra resources for A Cultural History of the Irish Novel, 1790-1829

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52 It is of course impossible to strip away accretions of hindsight – the longer history of the Union has seen to that – but it is at least worth Fact and fiction 33 trying to read the Union as an event in its own moment. Discussing The Absentee, W. J. McCormack has observed how the text can be described as a Union novel in two distinct ways. As a novel which depicts ‘Ireland under the Union’, The Absentee testifies to the Union’s status as an enduring fact of history. 53 It is this latter, stricter and more materialist sense of Union which I employ below, in the belief that the relationship between politics and culture must sometimes be sought for in specific material content rather than reduced to pre-ordained notions of political tendencies.

The form of the novel is itself shaken up by the internal dialogic contests taking place, and this dialogism has external as well as internal effects: the novel cannot withstand such a battering from within without showing some bumps and bruises on its exterior. Such formal innovations as Castle Rackrent’s mixture of narrative frames, along with experiments with epistolary form, the interpolated manuscripts of many national tales, and indeed the national tale itself, are evidence of fiction registering political conflict at the level of genre.

In museums, for instance, the ethnographic object is made to express the culture as a whole. 35 For him, this is a way of connecting late nineteeth-century commodity culture with the preceding decades of American culture, especially the post-Civil War decades. Before the late nineteenth-century heyday of museums and the rise of the folk park, however, there is a great deal less certainty about the role of objects in national culture, both in Europe and the Americas. How do everyday objects become cultural things?

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