Washed By The Gulf Stream: The Historic & Geographic Relation of Irish & Caribbean Literature

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1st Edition

University of Delaware Press, hardback, 240 x 160 mm. 200pp Illustrated.
In stock in Australia, for immediate despatch

In the first episode of James Joyce's Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus states, 'All Ireland is washed by the gulf stream'. Stephen thus gives voice to his peculiar hydrophobic concern with bathing and purity and reveals a concern for the exploration of origins, whether they are cultural, literary, emotional, or geographic. The exploration of origins often leads to a discovery of unexpected cultural correlation. Though the Irish have had a long presence in the Caribbean and Caribbean peoples have become a presence in Ireland, the connections between these two cultures have been largely overlooked. Both occupy opposing extremes of the North Atlantic on the margins of great continents, while linked perpetually with streams of water. Their relationship rests on the shared geographic positionings, highlighted in Joyce's statement, of these cultures.

Thinking about the Caribbean as a collective despite its great diversity and pairing it with a seemingly monolithic culture at the opposite edge of the Gulf Stream may seem unusual. Ireland, however, is not the monolith that it may at first seem, just as the Caribbean is not a disconnected chain of islands beyond the scope of any meaningful shared identity. Both Irish and Caribbean cultural discourses are currently overflowing with colonial history and post-coloniality, though these efforts remain almost entirely discrete.

Postcolonial criticism has too often overlooked the potential importance of unique geographies on cultural production. In fact, the colonial experience, as imagined in literature, differs based on the geography of specific colonies. Geography plays a pivotal, connective role in the relation between Ireland and the Caribbean. This book examines the historic basis, using archival materials from collections in the National Library of Ireland and the Institute of Jamaica, for the literary affiliations between these seemingly disparate island geographies. It expands the field of comparative literary inquiry through its illumination of three affiliated tropes of Irish and Caribbean cultural experience: sanctuary, wandering, and exile.

Studying these links illuminates how domestic structures become imagined as sites of impossible sanctuary in the Big House and Plantation novels of Somerville and Ross, Rhys, Carpentier, and Banville, how the sea functions as a metaphor for history within the modern epics of Joyce and Walcott, and how exile and emigration have transformed the conceptions of island-ness from the ideal forms imagined by Joyce and Lamming into the diseased bodies of Kincaid and McCourt.

While the primary audience for this book is readers with a specific interest in the cultural production of Ireland and the Caribbean, those with a more general interest in modernism, post colonialism, transatlantic migrations, island cultures, and transnational studies will also be drawn to this work.

Maria McGarrity is an associate professor of English at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York.


SKU 9780874130287
Barcode # 9780874130287
Brand AUP
Artist / Author Maria McGARRITY

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