Richard Kearney

1954- ; b. and grew up in Cork; ed. Glenstal Abbey School and UCD; completed MA at McGill University (Montreal), awarded PhD at University of Paris, X, and later visiting lecturer at the Sorbonne; appt. lecturer in Philosophy, UCD; fnd. & ed., with Patrick Mark Hederman, The Crane Bag, 1977-1985, to which he contributed ‘Myth and Terror’ (1977), ‘Myth as the Bearer of Possible Worlds’ (1978), ‘A Crisis of the Imagination’ (1979) on the Irish novel, and other pieces; with Bernard Cullen, made a submission to the New Ireland Forum advocating a ‘joint authority’ of British and Irish governments with the administration over Northern Ireland;
ed. The Irish Mind: Exploring Intellectual Traditions (1984), which was subjected to sceptical review by Conor Cruise O’Brien on account of the title-phrase, 1985; appt. Professor of Philosophy, UCD; issued Myth and Motherland (1984) in the Field Day Pamphlet series; also Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers (1984); La Poetique du possible (1984); Modern Movements in European Philosophy (1986); Narratives of Contemporary Irish Culture (1987); The Wake of Imagination (1988); Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture (1988);
co-editor of the Irish Review; contrib. prominently to television and radio broadcasts incl. Visions of Europe [1992]; issued Poetics of Modernity (1995); his novel, Sam’s Fall (1995), published by Hodder; issued Postnationalist Ireland (1996); a second novel, Walking at Sea Level (1998), concerning a complacent Canadian academic, John Toland, who undertake the study of his Irish namesake [q.v.] and is forced to confront his dead twin in the process; appt. to Charles Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College, 1998;
issued On Stories (2001), criticism; keynote speaker (on James Joyce) at IASIL Conference, Charles Univ., Prague, Aug. 2005; issued Navigations: Collected Irish Essays, 1976-2006 (2006). DIW

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  • Angel of Patrick’s Hill (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1992), 47pp.
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  • Sam’s Fall (London: Hodder/Sceptre 1995), 236pp.; Walking at Sea Level (London: Sceptre 1998), 248pp.
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  • with Joseph Stephen O’Leary, ed., Heidegger et la question de Dieu [Figures ser.] (Paris: B. Grasset [1980]), 346pp.;
  • Modern Movements in European Philosophy (Manchester UP 1986), 346pp., and Do. [2nd edn.] (1994), vi, 367pp.;
  • Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers: The Phenomenological Heritage (ManchesterUP 1984), vi,132pp. [Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Herbert Marcuse, Stanislas Breton, Jacques Derrida];
  • Poétique du possible: phénomélogie herméneutique de la figuration [Bibliothèque des Archives de philosophie, n.s., 44] (Paris: Beauchesne 1984), 282pp.;
  • Movements in Modern European Philosophy (1985);
  • ed., States of Mind: Dialogues with Contemporary Thinkers on the European Mind (Manchester UP; New York UP 1995), [319pp.] viii, 311pp. [‘Interview with Paul Ricoeur: “Universality and the Power of Difference”’, c.p.37];
  • Poetics of Modernity: Towards a Hermeneutic Imagination [Philosophy & Literary Theory] (NJ: Humanities Press 1994), xvii, 251pp.: ill.;
  • Paul Ricoeur: The Hermeneutics of Action (London: Thousand Oaks; CA: Sage 1996), 213pp. [prev. spec. iss. of Philosophy and Social Criticism, Vol. 21, 1995];
  • with Mark Dooley, ed., Questioning Ethics: Debates in Contemporary Philosophy (London: Routledge 1999), x, 302pp.;
  • The God Who May Be: A Hermeneutics of Religion (Indiana UP 2002), ix, 172pp.;
  • Strangers, Gods and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness (London: Routledge 2003), x, 294pp., ill.;
  • with J. Beaufret [et al.], Debates in Continental Philosophy: Conversations with Contemporary Thinkers [Perspectives in Continental Philosophy, 37] (NY: Fordham UP; London: Eurospan 2004), xii, 355pp.;
  • On Paul Ricoeur: The Owl of Minerva (Aldershot; Burlington, VT: Ashgate Pub. 2004), v, 186pp., Do. [another edn.] (NY: Syracuse UP 2007);
  • Traversing the Heart: Journeys of the Inter-religious Imagination, ed. Richard Kearney and Eileen Rizo-Patron. (Book version of the special edition of Journeys of the Inter-religious Imagination. Brill Publishers, Leiden, 2010);
  • Phenomenologies of the Stranger, ed. Kearney & Kascha Semonovitch NY: Fordham University Press, 2011);
  • Hosting the Stranger: Between Religions, ed. Kearney & James Taylor (NY: Continuum Press, 2010).
  • Anatheism: Returning to God after God (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), and Do. [rev. edn.], trans. & Frederic Lenoir, Dieu est mort, vive Dieu: Une nouvelle idée du sacré pout le IIIe millénaire: l’anathéism, Préface de Frédéric Lenoir (Paris: NiL Editions 2011).
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  • The Wake of Imagination: Ideas of Creativity in Western Culture (London: Hutchinson Education; Minneapolis UP 1988), 467pp., and Do. [rep. edn. as] The Wake of Imagination: Toward a Postmodern Culture (Routledge 1988, 1994, 2001, 2003), 467pp.;
  • Poetics of Imagining: Modern to Post-Modern [new edn.] (Edinburgh UP 1998), 260pp.;
  • Poetics of Imagining: From Husserl to Lyotard [Problems of Modern European Thought Ser.] (London: Routledge 1993), 234pp.;
  • On Stories [Thinking in Action Ser.] (London: Routledge 2001, 2002), xii, 193pp., ill.
  • with Mara Rainwater, ed., Continental Philosophy Reader (London: Routledge 1995, 1996), xiv, 481pp.;
  • with David Rasmussen, ed., Continental Aesthetics: Romanticism to Postmodernism: An Anthology [Blackwell Philosophy Anths., 12] (Oxford: Blackwell 2001), xi, 476pp.;
  • ed., Continental Philosophy in the 20th Century (Routledge History of philosophy, Vol. 8 [new edn.] (London: Routledge 2003), 576pp. [orig. 1994].
  • Richard Kearney, ‘Epiphanies in Joyce’, in Global Ireland: Irish Literatures for the New Millenium, ed. Ondrej Pilny & Clare Wallace [IASIL Conference 2004] (Prague: Litteraria Pragensia 2005), pp.147-82.
Scholarly editions
  • with Philip McGuinness & Alan Harrison [eds.], John Toland’s Christianity Not Mysterious: Text, Associated Works, and Critical Essays (Dublin: Lilliput Press; PA: Dufour Editions 1997), xii, 339pp., ill.
Irish studies
  • Myth and Motherland [Field Day pamphlets, No. 5] (Derry: Field Day Theatre Co. 1984), 24pp.;
  • ed. The Irish Mind: Exploring Intellectual Traditions (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1984), 365pp., ill.;
  • Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1987), 318pp., and Do (Manchester UP 1988) [rep.; see contents];
  • ed., Across the Frontiers: Ireland in the 1990s (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1989), 280pp. [infra];
  • ed., Migrations: The Irish at Home and Abroad (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1990), 127pp.;
  • Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Literature, Philosophy (London: Routledge 1996), x, 260pp.;
  • Navigations: Collected Irish Essays, 1976-2006 (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2006 ), 480pp. [incl. “Myths”, pp.32-47, “The Triumph of Failure”, pp.48-59];
  • Navigations: Collected Irish Essays 1976-2006 (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2006), 453pp. [incorp. material from Transitions].
See also Visions of Europe: Conversations on the Legacy and Future of Europe [RTÉ Ser.] (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1992), 143pp., ports.
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Contributions (sel.)
  • ‘Tom Murphy’s Long Night’s Journey into Night’, in Studies, 72 (1973), pp.327-35 [rep. in Transitions, 1987];
  • ‘Myth and Terror’, in The Crane Bag, Vol. 2, Nos. 1 & 2 (Dublin 1977);
  • ‘Myth as the Bearer of Possible Worlds’ [dialogue with Paul Ricoeur], in The Crane Bag, 2. 1 & 2 (1978) [q.pp.];
  • ‘A Crisis of the Imagination: An Analysis of a Counter Tradition in the Irish Novel’, in The Crane Bag, 3, 1 (1979), pp.58-70;
  • ‘Terrorisme et Sacrifice: le cas de Irlande du Nord’, in Esprit [Paris] (April 1979). [q.pp.];
  • ‘The IRA’s Strategy of Failure’, in The Crane Bag, 4, 2 (Dublin 1980), [q.pp.];
  • with Seamus Heaney, ‘Borges and the World of Fiction: An Interview with Jorge Luis Borges’, in The Crane Bag [Latin-American Issue], 6, 2 (1982), pp.71-78 [available at JSTOR - online].
  • ‘Between Politics and Literature: The Irish Cultural Journal’, in The Crane Bag, 7, 2 [The Forum Issue: Education, Religion, Arts, Psychology] (1983) pp.160-71;
  • ‘Language Play: Brian Friel and Ireland’s Verbal Theatre’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Journal, 72 (Spring 1983), pp.20-56 [available at JSTOR Ireland online].
  • ‘Letters to a New Republic: Three Open Letters to The Presidents’, in Letters from the New Island, ed. Dermot Bolger (Dublin: Raven Arts 1992), c.p.309;
  • ‘Myth and Modernity in Irish Poetry’, Contemporary Irish Poetry: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. in Elmer Andrews (London: Macmillan 1996), pp.41-62 [latterly Kennedy-Andrews];
  • ‘Memory and Forgetting in Irish Culture’, in Recovering Memory: Irish Representations of Past and Present, ed. Hedda Friberg, et. al. (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars 2007), pp.2-19; Do., in Franco-Irish Connections: Essays, Memoirs and Poems in Honour of Pierre Joannon, ed. Jane Conroy (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2009), q.pp.
  • ‘Bachelard and the Epiphanic Instant’ in The Expanding Horizons of Continental Philosophy [Special SPEP issue] of Philosophy Today, Vol. 52, ed. Peg Birmingham & James Risser (2008), q.pp.
  • ‘Memory in Irish Culture: An Exploration?’ in Irish Cultural Memory, Vol 3: “Two Cruxes in Irish Cultural Memory – The Famine and the Troubles”, ed. Oona Frawley (Syracuse UP 2010), q.pp.
  • ‘Paul Ricoeur’ and ‘Aesthetics and Theology’, in The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, ed. Daniel Patte (Cambridge UP 2010);
  • ‘Eucharistic Aesthetics in Merleau-Ponty and James Joyce’ in Essays for Gerard Hanratty, ed. Fran O’Rourke (UCD Press 2010), q.pp.

Also contrib. to Conleth Ellis and Rita E. Kelly, ed., Poetry Ireland Review, ‘Special Eugene Watters Issue: The Week-End of Dermot and Grace’ (1985);

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Bibliographical Details
Crane Bag, with Mark Patrick Hederman, ed., The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, [Vol. 1:] 1977-1981 (Dublin: Blackwater 1982), 929pp.; ed. [solo], The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, Vol. 2: 1981-86 (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1987), [1000]pp. See list of contents
Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture [2nd. edn.] (Manchester UP 1988), CONTENTS: Acknowledgements [4]; Preface [7]; Introduction: The Transitional Paradign [9]. Pt. I - Literary Narratives. Chap. 1: Yeats and the Conflict of Imaginations [19]; The Imagination of Desire; The Imagination of Vision; Appendix: The Byzantine Imagination. Chap. 2: Joyce - Questioning Narratives [31]; Appendix: Joyce and Derrida; Joyce and Borges. Chap. 3: Beckett: The End of the Story? [58] Beckett the Irish Writer: A Contradiction in Terms?; Beckett and the Deconstruction of Fiction; App. Writing under Erasure. Chap. 4: A Crisis of Fiction [83] Flann O’Brien; Francis Stuart; John Banville. Chap. 5: Heaney and Homecoming [101]; Appendix: Heaney, Heidegger and Freud. Pt II - Dramatic Narratives. The Language Plays of Brian Friel [123]; Faith Healer; Translations; The Communication Cord; Appendix: The Native Traditions of Verbal Theatre; Friel and Nationalism; The Conflict of Language Models; Friel and Steiner. Chap. 7: Tom Murphy’s Long Night’s Journey into Night [161]. Pt. III - Visual Narratives. Chap. 8: Nationalism and Irish Cinema [173]; Angel; Maeve; App. Barthes’ “Third Meaning”. Chap. 9: An Art of Otherness: A Study of Louis Le Brocquy [193]; App. Le Brocquy and Ballagh. Pt. IV - Ideological Narratives. Chap. 10: Myth and Martyrdom I: Some Fundamental Symbols in Irish Republicanism [209] The Militant Nationalist Tradition; The Myth of a Recurring Past; Yeats and the Symbolism of Sacrifice; On the Sacrifice Myth. Chap. 11: Myth and Martyrdom II: Long Kesh and the Prison Traditoin [224]. Chap. 12: Faith and Fatherland [237]. Chap. 13: Between Politics and Literature: The Irish Cultural Journal [25] The Historical Genesis of Journals in Irelnad; In Search of a New Nation; The Bell; Appendix: A Note on the Journal Genre. Part V: Conclusion. Chap. 14: Myth and the Critique of Ideology [269]; Notes to the Text [285].
Note: Table of contents not given in COPAC; the text is available in large part at Google Books - online. See also extracts - infra.
Across the Frontiers: Ireland in the 1990s, ed. Richard Kearney (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1989), 280pp. CONTENTS: Introduction, ‘Thinking Otherwise’ [7]. Pt. I - Political Perspectives: T. J. Barrington, ‘Frontiers of the Mind’ [29]; John Hume, ‘Europe of the Regions’ [45] Michael D. Higgins, ‘Ireland in Europe in 1992: Problems and Prospects for a Mutual Interdependency’ [58]; Paul Bew & Henry Patterson, ‘Ireland in the 1990s - North and South’ [78]; Rosemarie Rowley, ‘Thinking Globally and Acting Locally’ [91] Desmond Fennell, ‘Towards a World Community of Communities [99]. Pt II - Social and Economic Perspectives: Eithne Murphy, ‘Ireland’s Economic Welfare in a Barrier Free Europe’, [117]; Frank Barry, ‘‘Pluralism and Community’ [137]; Ivor Browne, ‘A Granular Society’ [151]; Alan Matthews, ‘The Role of the European Community’s Structural Funds in the 1990s’ [171]. Pt. III - Cultural Perspectives: Migrant Minds (in conversation with the editor’ [185] Paul Hewson [“Bono”] ‘The White Nigger’; Paul Durcan, ‘Passage to Utopia’; Neil Jordan, ‘Imagining Otherwise’; Robert Ballagh, ‘Responding’; Luke Gibbons, ‘Coming Out of Hibernation?: The Myth of Modernity in Irish Culture’ [205]; Desmond Bell, ‘Ireland Without Frontiers? The Challenge of the Communications Revolution’ [219]; Joseph O’Leary, ‘Religion, Ireland: in Mutation’ [231]. Pt. IV - International Perspectives: Alberto Moravia, ‘The Debate on European Cultural Identity. The Cultural Storm’ [241]; Edgar Faure, ‘A Europe of Regional Cultures’; Wim Wenders, ‘Europe Seen from Elsewhere’; Edgar Morin, ‘European Cultural Identity’; Julia Kristeva, ‘The Other Europe’; Georges Duby, ‘The Case for European Cultural Television’. Jean-François Lyotard, ‘Notes on the Postmodern Debate (Preview for a New Stage and Svelte Appendix to the Postmodern Question) [261]; Tom Docherty, ‘Passages to Postmodernism’ [268 ]; Notes on the Contributors. [see also “Quotations”, infra.]

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  • Peter Gratton, Traversing the Imaginary: Richard Kearney and the Postmodern Challenge (Northwestern UP 2007);
  • John Monoussakis, ed., After God: Richard Kearney and the Religious Turn in Contemporary Philosophy (Fordham UP 2005);
  • Peter Gratton & John Manoussakis, eds., Traversing the Imaginary: Richard Kearney’s Postmodern Challenge (Northwestern UP 2007);
  • Jens Zimmerman, ed., Re-imagining the Sacred: The Anatheist Debate (Columbia UP 2012).
[See also Commentary, infra.]

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Jeremiah Newman [Bishop of Limerick], The State of Ireland (Cork: Mercier Press 1977), criticised Kearney for his inclusion of chapters on Molesworth, Hutcheson, Clayton, Dodwell, Skelton, et al., in The Irish Mind (1984): ‘One has only to consult any thorough history of English philosophy to find most of these names included in it, which means or should mean that they do not exactly represent the Irish mind as such.’ (q.p.)

Ulrich Schneider, ‘Staging History in Contemporary Anglo-Irish Drama: Brian Friel and Frank McGuinness’, in Geert Lernout, ed., The Crows Behind the Plough: History and Violence in Anglo-Irish Poetry and Drama (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1991), notes that Kearney was the first text to point out how closely and how extensively Friel borrowed from George Steiner in the account of language in Translations (see Kearney, ‘The Language of Brian Friel’, Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture [Chap. 10] , Manchester UP 1988, [c.p.126]) See also Chap. 11: ‘Myth and Martyrdom’ (Schneider, op. cit., pp.85, 92).

Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature (London: Pluto Press 1998), writes: ‘Kearney … suggests that the Irish mind may be seen as favouring a different logic, one organised around the principle of both/and, and characterised by an intellectual ability to hold the traditional oppositions of classical reason together in creative confluence. (p.28; seee also Smyth, op. cit., pp.168-71 on Sam’s Fall, and sundry quotations, as infra.)

Conor Cruise O’Brien, reviewing The Irish Mind (1985), ends by expressing a preference for some such locutions as “aspects of Irish experience” to the title-phrase. (Passion and Cunning, 1988, p.198; cited by Ciaran Benson, ‘A psychological perspective on art and Irish national identity’, in Halliday & Coyle, eds., The Irish Psyche [Special Issue of Irish Journal of Psychology, 15, 2 & 3] 1994, p.317.)

John Harrington, The Irish Beckett (Syracuse UP 1991), offers criticisms of Richard Kearney’s revisionist view of Samuel Beckett: ‘Granted that Beckett’s work may offer a plurality of discourses, my reading of Beckett’s work (Watt in particular) differs from that of Kearney in finding instead an intractable dialectic and an endlesss renovation of the same problem of precedence and liberation from it.’ (p.137.) Likewise, contra Seamus Deane: ‘in my study, examination of Beckett’s work suggests instead a persistence of antecedents rather than a blush of newness.’ (p.138.)

John Dunne, review of Sam’s Fall in Books Ireland (Sept. 1995), p.216-17, offers harsh appraisal. See also notice of States of Mind (1995) in Books Ireland (Oct. 1995), p.259.

John Devitt, review of Sam’s Fall, in Irish Literary Supplement (Fall 1995), p.14. (Devitt taught Kearney English and Latin at Glenstal Abbey School, though not remarked in this review.)

Terence Killen, review of Poetic of Modernity [ &c.] (1996), in The Irish Times (4 May 1996): ‘We are told … that Joyce’s “belief that the dualistic opposition of myth and history can be overcome”. It is important to stress that Joyce does not have beliefs: as a writer he is not in the business of truth and falsehood. To speak of him in this way is to import and impose conceptions on him, a kind of swift and dangerous translation. It is to neglect a vital distinction, a genuine alterity, that needs to be respected.’

Roy Foster, review of Postnationalist Ireland (1997), in Times Literary Supplement (May 1997): sees the collection as a necessary response to Bishop Jeremiah Newman’s expressed denial of the Irishness of Irish philosophers (e.g., Molesworth, Hutcheson, &c.); remarks on notes Liah Greenfield’s Nationalist: Five Roads ot Modernity, in which an individualist/libertarian rather than a collectivist/authoritarian view is advanced; quotes Kearney on the Irishness of Toland [see under Toland].

Michael Cronin, review of On Stories (London: Routledge), in The Irish Times [Weekend], 29 Dec. p.9: Kearney ‘sets out to explain in uncomplicated prose why stories are important to our lives [and] argues that it is essentially our ability to tell and listen to stories which makes us human’. Further, ‘He claims that mimesis in storytelling is not simply a question of holding up a mirror to the world, but it is a creative retelling of selected events in the world, so revealing hidden patterns and unexplored meanings.’ Note Cronin’s summary remark to the effect that Kearney’s ‘chief virtue has always been pedagogical’ is treated as a caption for a photo-port.

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Mark Patrick Hederman [OSB], ‘Gulliver in Lilliput’, review of Navigations: Collected Irish Essays, 1976-1996, in The Irish Book Review Summer (2006), p.13-15: Hederman appears to treat Kearney sardonically as the Socrates of the Irish nation, and quotes his leading views: ‘there is no single Master Narrative of Irish culture, but a plurality of transitions between different perspectives. Moreover, this very plurality is perhaps our greatest asset; something to be celebrated rather than censored’ (Navigations, xviii). For the rest, Hederman sets about demonstrating that Kearney is given to clichéd over-generalisation about the monolithic nature of popular Irish nationalism and [Catholic] religion. The review marks something of a rift between the writers, both co-editors of Crane Bag and former pupils of Glenstal Abbey School while the reviewer is a member of the Benedictine religious community at Glenstal and sometime head-master of the school. (For a fuller summary, see under Hederman, supra.)

Joe Cleary, ‘Reeling through the years’, review of Richard Kearney, Navigations: Collected Irish Essays 1976-2006, in The Irish Times (7 July 2007), Weekend:‘[…] The sentiments expressed in this opening section are unexceptional and unobjectionable. Kearney calls for less triumphal forms of Catholicism and Protestantism, for more pragmatically open-minded versions of republicanism, and for the cultivation of Irish intellectual as well as imaginative traditions. These pieces are somewhat spongy and lack analytical force because they offer no searching account of the social, economic or even cultural and ideological forces that stymied the emergence of the more liberal society Kearney yearned for. Re-reading them now, these works convey little visceral sense of that foul concatenation of Thatcherite and Haugheyite modernisation and austerity, conservative Catholicism and Protestant fundamentalism or international economic depression and an emerging neoliberalism that conditioned the whole climate of Irish politics at the time. Nor are these studies fine-tuned to any of the bottom-up social forces that would deliver us from the distressed conditions of those decades.’

[Cleary - cont:] The essays in the subsequent cultural sections display a more sustained analytical drive. Joyce and Beckett command three essays each, Yeats, Heaney, Friel and Tom Murphy each get one. Other figures - Flann O’Brien, Francis Stuart, John Banville or Neil Jordan and Pat Murphy - share space.
  Kearney is considerably more attentive to northern matters than were most southern cultural critics at the time, but despite his homage to postnationlist pluralism the artists that most compel him are male, nationalist and mainly literary. There are many references to fellow Irish critics - Seamus Deane’s name recurs frequently - but Kearney never really engages his critical or philosophical compatriots in any extended way. The arguments of ‘The Irish Mind Debate’ (1985) notwithstanding, the volume remains far more interested in Irish imaginative than in Irish intellectual writing.
  In the case of the Irish writers and artists discussed, the tone is invariably admiring and appreciative. Kearney’s critical temperament is non-combative, indeed resolutely irenic, seeking and finding felicities. […; &c.]’

(For full text, see Ricorso Library, “Criticism / Reviews”, via index or attached.)


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The Irish Mind: Exploring Intellectual Traditions
(1985), Introduction: ‘The existence of an Irish mind has frequently been contested’; further illustrates the ‘negative’ stereotype resulting in a ‘colonial calibanisation’ of the Irish by means of quotations from Disraeli and Charles Kingsley describing the Irish as a ‘wild, reckless, indolent, uncertain and superstitious race’ who ‘hate our order, our civilisation, our enterprising industry, our pure religion’, and ‘a race of ‘white chimpanzees’ [quotes further illustrations from Matthew Arnold]. ‘The Irish mind does not reveal itself as a single, fixed, homogenous identity. [… /] Could it be that the Irish intellectual tradition(s) represent something of a counter-movement to the mainstream of hegemonic rationalism which Jacques Derrida has termed “logocentrism”? Could it be that the Irish mind, in its various expressions, often flew in the face of such logocentrism by showing that meaning is not only determined by a logic that centralises and censors but also by a logic which disseminates: a structured dispersal exploring what is other, what is irreducibly diverse. /In contradistinction to the orthodox dualistic logic of either/.or, the Irish mind may be seen to favour a more dialectical logic of both/and: an intellectual ability to hold the traditional oppositions of classical reason together in creative confluence. [cites Newgrange and Joyce]’ (p.9.)

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Myth and Motherland (Field Day 1984): ‘What is required is a radical interrogation of those mythic sedimentations from our past and those mythic aspirations for our future which challenge our present sense of ourselves, which disclose other possibilities of being. And this interrogation ultimately rest upon the ethical necessity to distinguish between myth as an open-ended process which frees us from the strait-jacket of a fixed identity; and myth as a [23] closed product which draws a magic circle aroundthis identity excluding dialogue with all that is other than ourselves. / Without mythology, our hopes and memories are homeless; we capitulate to the mindless conformism of fact. But if reversed for its own abstract sake, if totally divorced from the challenge of reality, mythology becomes another kind of conformism, another kind of death. We must never cease to keep our mythological images in dialogue with history; because once we do we fossilise. That is why we will go on telling stories, inventing and re-inventing myths, until we have brought history home to itself.’ (pp.23-24 [end].) Further: ‘Women became as sexually intangible as the ideal of national independence became politically intangible. Both entered the unreality of myth. They became aspirations rather than actualities.’ (Quoted in Susan Parlour, MA Diss., UUC 2008, citing Belfast: Dorman 1984 [poss. Field Day pamphl. ser. printer], pp.35-36 [err.].)

Myth and Motherland [Field Day pamphlets, No. 5] (Derry: Field Day Co. 1984): ‘[Poetic and criminalised discourse] refuse the current consciousness of reality by invoking something else which precedes or exceeds it, which remains, as it were, sub-conscious or supra-conscious. In Ireland, this “something else” often finds its habitation and its name in myth.’ (p.5; quoted in Geraldine Meaney, ‘History Gasps: Myth in Contemporary Irish Women’s Poetry’, in Poetry in Contemporary Irish Literature, ed. Michael Kenneally, 1995, p.100.) [Cont.]

Myth & Motherland’ [1984], in Ireland’s Field Day, pref. Roger McHugh (1985): ‘Without mythologies, our hopes and memories are homeless: we capitulate to the mindless conformism of fact. But if […] totally divorced from the challenge of reality, mythology becomes another kind of conformism, another kind of death. We must never cease to keep our mythological images in dialogue with history; because once we do we fossilise. That is why we will go on telling stories, inventing and re-inventing myths, until we have brought history home to itself.’ ‘[…] a radical interrogation of those mythic sedimentations from our past and those mythic aspirations for our future which challenge our present sense of ourselves, which disclose other possibilities of being. And this interrogation ultimatley rests upon the ethical necessity to distinguish between myth as an open-ended process which frees us from the strait-jacket of a fixed identity; and myth as a closed product which draws a magic circle around this identity excluding dialogue.’ (pp.79-80; quoted in cited in Aidan Arrowsmith, ‘Debating Diasporic Identity: Nostalgia (Post) Nationalism, Critical Traditionalism’, Irish Studies Review, August 1999, p.179.)

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Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture (Dublin: Manchester UP 1988): ‘The revivalist project […] was […] endorsed in large part by the nationalist tendency within the Irish Catholic Church and by the Irish Republican movement of 1916 and Sinn Féin. Thus, we witness a number of revivalist currents - literary, linguistic, religious and political […] in response to a common cultural crisis.’ ( p.11.) ‘While Yeats conceived of memory as a sacramental refuge from history, a Great Tradition of timeless myths restoring the dream of a lost Unity of Culture, Joyce redefines memory as a “nightmare of history” - something to be interrogated and creatively explored so as to open up new possibilities of historical meaning. For Yeats memory offers the promise of cultural identity based on the retrieval of tradition; for Joyce it opens the possibility of cultural difference, of being always otherwise. Caithlin ni Houlihán, the matriarch of national unity, is supplanted by Molly and Anna Livia, “bringers of pluralities”.’ (p.40.) Further: ‘[W. B. Yeats] formed the idea of recreating a specifically Irish literature which would give dignity to Ireland’s idea of itself, by making Irish readers aware of their heritage of Gaelic civilisation, by encouraging a new literature not dominated by political rhetoric but distinctively heroic in its return to past traditions.’ (Op. cit., [q.p.]; quoted in Sarah Briggs, ‘Mary Lavin: Questions of Identity’, Irish Studies Review, 15, Summer 1996, pp.10-15; p.15.) [Cont.]

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Transitions (1988) - cont: Kearney writes that mediation between ‘the images of the past and future’ and the need to ‘avoid the pertrification of tradition and th alienation of modernity [are] central problems facing Irish culture [today]’. ‘[I]n their exclusive concentration on security and economic dimensions of the Ulster crisis […] the British […] unwittingly […] assumed the role of the magistrate Creon before the Republican Antigone.’ (p.232.) ‘It is a mistake to schismatically oppose the utopian impulses of modernity to the recollective impulses of tradition. For every culture invents its future by reinventing its past.’ (p.270; in Salis, op. cit., 2005.) ‘Tradition can be handed over (tradere) from one historical generation to the next by means of an ongoing process of innovative translation. And if tradition entails translation, it equally entails transition.’ (p.271.) [The foregoing all quoted in Loredana Salis, ‘‘“So Greek with Consequence””: Classical Tragedy in Contemporary Irish Drama’, PhD Diss., UUC, 2005.]

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Ideas of Creativity in Western Culture (1988): ‘The historical imagination seeks to transfigure the postmodern present by refiguring lost narratives and prefiguring future ones. Moreover it feels obliged to interpret historically in this way; for it is aware that the project of freedom can easily degenerate into empty utopianism unless guided in some manner by the retrieval of past struggles for liberation […] An ethically responsible imagination does not, of course, invoke tradition as some kind of master narrative to be reimposed on the present. It resists the authoritarian idea of a narrative of narratives which totalises historical experience and peremptorily reduces its diversity to a single, all-embracing plot. But it does insist on the need to record the formative narratives of the past as invaluable archives of human suffering, hope and action.’ (p.393; quoted in Mark Ward, ‘Ideology and Utopia or Structure and Agency: The Productive Imagination as Critique of Culture’, PG Presentation, UU Sept. 2004.)

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Across the Frontiers: Ireland in the 1990s (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1989), pp.7-25: Ireland can no longer be contained within the frontiers of an island […] . “Ourselves alone” is a catch-cry of the past. But how do we decide our future?’ (p.7.); ‘It is unlikely that Ireland or any other European state in the 1990s will be able to maintain inherited notions of absolute autonomy’ (p.9); ‘Whether Ireland after 1992 conforms more to the malign or benign scenarios is in large part a matter for us to decide’ (p.11); ‘[…] An Ireland without frontiers is obviously an Ireland without borders. This does not, however, entail a “united Ireland” in the traditional sense of this term. For the Nation States of Britain and Ireland, which constitute the very basis for the opposing claims of nationalist and unionist ideologies, would be superseded by a European constellation of regions. An alternative model would have emerged transcending both the nationalist claim to exclusive unity with the Republic and the unionist claim to exclusive union with Britain.’ (p.18); ‘As a small country which has experienced the ravages of colonial and imperial policies, we should be the last to condone the Community degenerating into a new Euro-Empire ambitious to rival the superpowers in geo-political warplay. On the contrary, our neutral history places us in a unique position to militate for a non-aligned Europe committed to world disarmament and strongly opposed to the notion of an Atlantic Alliance […] which divides the world into antagonistic [19] blocs. On such matters, our historical bias is, thankfully, an anti-imperialist one.’ (pp.19-20); ‘What are the central issues at stake in the cultural debate? Perhaps the most dominant is the question of identity and difference. What does it mean to be Irish? Is it some unique “essence” inherited from our ancestors? is it a characteristic of a specific language (e.g., Gaelic) or religion (Catholic/Protestant) or ideology (nationalist/unionist)? Is it a matter of ethnic memory, genetic heritage or geographical residence? One thing is certain: the question of what it means to be Irish - who we are and where we are going to - cannot be limited to the frontiers of our island. The affirmation of a dynamic cultural identity invariably involves an exploratory dialogue with other cultures.’ (p.21.); ‘Plagued by colonialism, famine and emigration, we become obsessed by the struggle with the “old enemy” England and settled for a rather insular definition of national identity and culture. But since such dark times in our history, we have begun to re-explore the rich diversity and openness of our intellectual traditions. There are growing signs in our culture today - both popular and artistic - that the plurality of our heritage is being recognised anew. And this also augurs well for a more creative relationship with our most immediate neighbour - Great Britain.’ (p.22); refers to adoption of ARSI resolution to positively encourage minority languages (Oct. 1981) and shares with John Hume in regarding it as ‘ far more likely to succeed than most steps taken by national governments to date.’ (p.25); ‘A new Europe can only hope to discover its identity through diversity’ (p.25); ‘In the 1900s nothing should be allowed to hinder our entitlement to a triple citizenship - of Ireland, Europe and the world.’ (p.25; End).

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Open Letter to Mary Robinson’ asserts that with her election ‘we have performed a rite of passage from past to future […] from outworn piety to a more enabling sense of possibility […] a modern enlightened Republic where each citizen enjoys equal rights and responsibilities.’ (‘Letters to a New Republic - Three Open Letters to The Presidents’, in Dermot Bolger, Letters from the New Island, Raven Arts 1992, p.309; quoted in Gerry Smyth, The Novel and the Nation: Studies in New Irish Fiction, London: Pluto Press 1997, p.5.)

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Post-modernity and National: A European Perspective’ (1992): ‘[…] one must discriminate between different kinds of political nationalism - those which emancipate and those which incarcerate, those that affirm a people’s cultural identity in dialogue with other peoples and those that degenerate into ideological closure - into xenophobia, racism and bigotry. (In Modern Fiction Studies, 38, 3, Autumn 1992, p.586; quoted in quoted in Gerry Smyth, The Novel and the Nation: Studies in New Irish Fiction, London: Pluto Press 1997, p.14; see also Smyth, op. cit., pp.168-71 on Sam’s Fall.)

Poetics of Modernity (1995): ‘By creatively reinterpreting the past, narrative can serve to release new and hitherto concealed possibilities of understanding one’s history; and by critically scrutinising the past it can wrest tradition away from the conformism that is always threatening to overpower it’ (p.40; quoted in Bernard McKenna, ‘Green Fire into the Frozen Branch’: Violence and the Recovery of Identity in Vincent Woods’s at the Black Pig’s Dyke and Seamus Heaney’s The Cure At Troy’, in Transactions of Princess Grace Irish Library Confer

Myth and Modernity in Irish Poetry’, in Elmer Andrews, ed., Contemporary Irish Poetry: A Collection of Critical Essays (London: Macmillan 1996), pp.41-62: ‘Myth has played a crucial and often controversial role in modern Irish poetry. […/] The revivalists frequently deployed myth as an ideological weapon. It’s negeries, it was believed, would mobilise theminds of the Irish people. Cutting across differences of class, religion and [41] party. A revived national mythology would provide a Unity of Culture which would in turn galvanise a Politics of Unity. But many modern Irish poets have invoked myth in quite a different matter. Instead of interpreting it as an agency of integrity, continuity and unbroken heritage, they have treated it as an agency of critique. In stead of seeing it as a means of restoring the nation to its proper place therefore fulfilling its ancestry destiny - they have rewritten it as a subversion of origins and identities, a catalyst of disruption and difference, a joker in the pack inviting us to a free variation of meanings. [… &c.].’ (pp.41-42.)

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Literary Revival: ‘The revivalists frequently deployed myth as an ideological weapon. Its energies, it was believed, would mobilise the minds of the Irish people, cutting across differences of class, religion and party. A revived national mythology would provide a Unity of Culture which would in turn galvanise a Politics of Unity. But many modern poets have invoked myth in quite a different manner. Instead of interpreting it as an agency of integrity, continuity, and unbroken heritage, they have treated it as an agency of critique. instead of seeing it as a means of restoring the nation to it proper place - thereby fulfilling its ancestral destiny - they have rewritten it as a subversion of origins and identities, a catalyst of disruption and difference, a joker in the pack inviting us to a free variation of meanings. This attitude to myth was, of course, central for Joyce. […] This attitude to myth I call utopian. In contrast to the ideological use of which, which seeks to reinstate a people, nation, or race in its predestined “place”, the utopian myth opens up a “no-place” (u-topos). It emancipates the imagination into a historical future rather than a harnessing it to a hallowed past.’ (‘Myth and Modernity in Irish Poetry’, in Elmer Andrews, ed., Contemporary Irish Poetry: A Collection of Critical Essays Macmillan 1996, pp.41-62, p.42). [Note that his views with the accepted etymology of utopia in eu-topos, ‘good place’].

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The Irish mind: ‘[O]ur culture may be more properly understood as a manifold of narratives … the notion of an “Irish mind” should be comprendned in terms of a multiplicty of Irish minds’ (Postnationalist Ireland, p.16-17; quoed in Klaus Gunnar Schneider, ‘Irishness and Postcoloniality in Glenn Patterson’s Burning Your Own’, in Irish Studies Review, Vo. 6, No. 1, 1998, pp.55-62, p.56.)

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Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Culture, Philosophy, London; Routledge, 1997): ‘[…] the postmodern critique of power implies the replacement of absolute sovereignty-theocracy, monarchy, bureaucracy-with republican principles of freedom. It is a political or ethical community, one ’where identity is part of a permanent process of naff ative retelling, where each citizen is in a “state of dependency on others”. In such a postmodern republic, the principle of interdependency is seen as a virtue rather than a vice; it serves, in fact, as reminder that every citizen’s story is related to every other’s […] the postmodem turn seeks to deconstruct the Official story (which presents itself as official history) into the open plurality of stories that make it up. Modern imperialism and modern nationalism are two sides of the official story. Genuine internationalism (working at a global level) and critical regionalism (working at a local level) represent two sides of a postmodern alliance. (p.62.) Further, ‘The golden mean […] between the absolute indpendence of the nation-sate and the absolute dependence of a Euro-state lies in a European federation of interdependent regions. European regionalism offers the best promise for both communities of a divided Ulster, pointing a way beyond the nationalist/unionist endgame of exclusive sovereignty.’ (Ibid., p.105.)

(Re)constructing Ireland: review of Colin Graham, Deconstructing Ireland: Deconstructing Ireland, Identity, Theory, Culture (Edinburgh UP 2001), 189pp., cites chapter-title ‘Staged Quaintness’, which explores relation between nation and gender in stories by Gerry Adams and Frank Delaney. Kearney takes Graham to mean that Ireland is more a citation or brand-name than a reality, and that Ireland is constantly in the process of deconstructing itself, which means in turn that it invites new efforts at reconstruction.

Church & state: ‘One of the main reasons the Catholic hierarchy was not officially allied to Irish nationalism, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was because it feared the nationalist-republican ideas being imported into Ireland from the French revolution were anti-Catholic. The fact that these were also anti-British meant, logically, that a tacit alliance of interests bound Maynooth and Westminster together: the Catholic hierarchy actually approved the abolition of the Irish parliament and union with Britain in 1800, while the English government financed the establishment of the Catholic seminary at Maynooth in 1795. After the fall of Parnell and 1916, however, it became clear to the Church that the soul of the Irish nation was up for grabs and that the need for a unifying collective identity for the newly emerging state could best be provided by a form of Catholic nationalism which allowed (in Joyce’s words) “Christ and Caesar go hand in hand”. Indeed, the 1937 Constitution of Dáil Éireann came close, at times to ratifying the equation of Catholic, Gael and Irishman. While this was modified by subsequent amendments, the strong influence of the [57] Catholic Chruch on matters of state was witnessed as late as the knife edge 1995 referendum on divorce.’ (Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Culture, Philosophy, Routledge 1997, p.7-8; quoted in Gareth Joseph Downes, ‘“A Terrible Heretic”: James Joyce and Catholicism’, Aaron Kelly & Alan Gillis, eds., Critical Ireland: New Essays in Literature and Culture, Four Courts Press 2001, pp.57-58.)

[For quotations from editorial of Crane Bag, see under Patrick Hederman, supra.]

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John Montague: The longer poem “Border Sick Call”, by Montague, first printed in Fortnight Review (Oct. 1994; pp.48-49), appeared with editorial material quoted from Richard Kearney: ‘[the] mythological homeland of Tyrone is [for Montague] a ruined landscape, a ravaged recollection. If myth can be given voice again, it is only as a testimony to contemporary homelessness.’

Bernard Cullen (co-submitter with Kearney of the proposal for a joint authority to govern Northern Ireland): Cullen (b.1950) is Professor of Philosophy in the Queen's University Belfast. His works incl. Hegel's Social and Political Thought: An Introduction (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), and ed., Discriminations Old and New: Aspects of Northern Ireland Today [Proceedings of the Irish Association Conference] (Belfast: IIS/QUB 1992), ix, 177pp.

Note: Cullen has also written on Northern Ireland in newspapers - viz, ‘Warning of nation state threat to Protestants’, in [?Belfast Telegraph] (28 Feb. 1980) - as attached.

Namesake: One Richard Kearney was the author of A Plan for the Payment of the National Debt, and for the immediate reduction of taxation (Dublin: J. Charles 1816), 36pp., 8º; also A Plan for the Effectual and Permanent Relief of the Agricultural and Commercial Distresses, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland [Grey Tracts, 154] (Dublin: Charles 1821). [British Library; COPAC].

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