Richard Pine, The Disappointed Bridge: Ireland and the Post-Colonial World (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2014), xxx, 598pp.

Mission civilatrice, xii; land, religion, language (icons of identity), xiii; “Black [with] white skins” (de Paor), xiii; “imperial lenses which conditioned much of my reading and television viewing”, xiv; Pine, Snr. and British Colonisation, xiv; collective identity – colonial resistance, xv; “What happens ...?” (Friel), xiv-xv; Memmi (symbiosis of coloniser and colonised), xvi; Friel central to the post-colonial status of Ireland, p.xvi; post-colonial responsibilities, xvii; Invisibility of Ireland; absence of other Irelands on the map of international postcolonial studies; Irish writers largely refused to see themselves as postcolonial, xix; D. Walcott: “history is a nightmare”, xviii; 1st to break the imperial mould, xx; 3 Poco analogues: 1. Language shift; 2. Amritsar/Croke Park; 3. Macaulay/Arnold, xxi-ii; excluded writers (Johnston, Broderick, Hogan, xxii); search for a narrative to which society can be faithful [...] “a national longing for form” (Rushdie), xxiii; Harold Laswell: “Who says what ...?”, xxiii-iv; dangerous moments, xxv; Rushdie says, “There are two countries, real and fictional, occupying the same space, or almost the same space” [Shame, 23-24], xxv; David Lloyd xxvi;  Freud/Joyce (“heimlich”), xxvi; “areas [topics, themes] which are not necessarily to the fore in these [poco] studies” [e.g., embarrassment; map-making; private/public; Joyce’s tundish; Yeats’s hour-glass (“spiritual terror, broken mind”)], xxvii; Bhabha, xxvii.

Some keywords: Rushdie: “the empire writes back”, 10; Memmi (dominated man; accepted failure”, 15;  Achebe (failure of leadership), 15; Pearse (“blood lust & self-sacrifice”), 15; Joyce “frets”, 16; Fintan O’Toole (“real Ireland/modern Ireland”);  De Valera & home, 23; Joyce and Hiberno-English, 52; Homi Bhabha, 39; Chinua Achebe, 46; négritude today, 47; “the novel and imperialism unthinkable without each other” (Said), 59; “The Dead”, seminal, 68; Donoghue, “language is a political fact” (We Irish), 78; Kearney, 79; Ben Jonson, 54, 79; Five Phases, 105, 125, 129; Tony Cafferky, 126; C. V. Stanford, subliminal nationalism, 158; Brian Boydell, 173; Frederick May, 175; Denis Johnston (“see what would happen if ...?”), 180 [vide 367); Lady Morgan (more recent than Burke), 254; Joyce Cary, 307-21; Hedge-schools, 303; Henderson the Rain King, 315; Irish commemorations, 327; “real republic”, 328; children, 328; we should remind ourselves, 336;  a real nation, 337; Liam O’Flaherty and the RC Church, 338; Yeats’s “real Ireland”, 357; Yeats’s “uncertainty”, 359; mythistorima, 336 [cf. xxvi]; dodecanophonic v. sean nós, 427; Griffith’s relevance is ..., 416; O Riada’s conversion, 433; O Riada’s “restless quest”, 454; SOR and the “great hurt”, 466; authentic sound and voice, 456; Dickinson & Heaney, 507; relatively civilised Ireland, 526; Danger of nationalism, 533.


Many commentators on post-colonial themes refer obliquely to Ireland but do not create the fertile bridge between Ireland and the rest of the post-colonial world. (xviii.)

Essentially The Disappointed Bridge steers a course between “Writing Ireland” and “Inventing Ireland”: it is by reading Ireland, and by reading it in the light of texts from other post-colonial societies, that we can achieve some understanding of what is undertaken by attempting to build a bridge of meaning. (p.xxii.)

The empire travels in a continuous straight line towards its destiny, the colonised travels in discontinuous cycles of despair. The past represents the heavy hand of masculine history, the future the fluid feminine possibilities of hope. [...] The search for a narrative to which society can be faithful is, in Salman Rushdie’s words, “a national longing for form”. (p.xxiii.)

All people tell their stories, as individuals and societies; a dominant, outward-going nation will tell stories from a position of strength and confidence [...] a colonised, subdued nation, inhibited by its subjection, will tell stories of failure and embarrassment, and will create images of hope and despair which are future-oriented those nations tell these stories differently before and after freedom.
  When freedom comes, men and women explore each other in a new light, as citizens and as lovers, but above all they explore freedom itself. Attitudes to land, society and sexuality take on new perspectives and are subject to new descriptions. Narratives alter both subtly and violent.
  Many emergent countries continue to live in the shadow of their history. But with autonom comes an unfolding of a range of attendant freedoms and responsibilities which engage the imagination in acts of cultural, sexual and spatial emancipation.
  The interstitial space between colonisation and full autonomy is a very dangerous place, as relationships are redefined and new forces, previously impossible or inconceivable, become visible, articulate and active.
  All the lines must be redrawn, all the characters redefined. When a colonial society which has been a subsidiary part of a dominant empire is reborn as a free, autonomous res publica, its images begin to change both internally and externally. Internally, it begins to re-assess its view of itself, to call into play the forces and themes which brought it to freedom; externally, it begins to assert its new identity, to talk for the first time in the present tense, where it had previously lived on the experience of the past and the hopes of future attainment.
  Previously “difference” was what identified it as the weaker of two powers; now “difference” describes its inherent strengths, its distinguishing mark among the nations.
  The place of writing moves from periphery to centre: writers also come to grief even while they are expressing joy. The force of freedom is sometimes greater than the writer’s capacity to embrace it – the surprise and shock of the new.
 The  perennial story of master and servant, man and woman, black and white, east and west, north and south, the relationship of thought and deed [xxiv] is at the heart of this story-telling because it is based on the twin themes of irony and misunderstanding. The story-teller confers identity on his listener/readers by means of a story which enters the collective imagination and thence the collective memory. But thereby, the story-teller also confers identity on himself, validates his place in the world. One cannot be a story-teller, or listen to a story, unless one knows who one is. This is the dilemma of the post-colonial writer: finding himself, finding a voice, so that a story may be told, a vision articulated. So often irony – which depends on a shared referential context – defies the writer because that context does not exist, and the result is misunderstanding and accusations of betrayal. The moments immediately following freedom are the most dangerous. (p.xxiv-v; his italics.)

The Irish writing in which I am interested describes a post-independence culture attempting to find its way in the aftermath of freedom, searching for an adequate language and a new canon of literature and for a sense of autonomy after emancipation and from the master-servant relationship. [...] In the process of storytelling, Irish writers (and their society) are unhoused, decentred, out-of-doors, homeless minds.

[...] If the writer posits a “real” country and at the same time, a “fictional” country, the mis-fit between the two becomes the place where he is vulnerable: he sought [sic] irony, and he is met with misunderstanding, which in Rushdie’s case [...] brought him to near-death experiences. (xxv.)

The moments immediately following freedom are the most dangerous (p.xxv.)

I have always been wary of adopting theoretical, rather than pragmatic or epistemological viewpoints, not least because theory seems inseparable from political beliefs. [...; p.xxvii].  I applaud Bhabha’s statement that “there is a damaging and self-defeating assumption that theory is necessarily the elite language of the socially and culturally privileged”. I would go further and argue conversely that to extrapolate theoretical concepts from statements based on the lived experience of colonised writers cannot provide us with anything more than a fragile and disputable framework of which generalised arguments about the nature of post-colonial societ(ies) might be based. [...] always in danger of being disproved by a unique instance to which it does not apply. Nevertheless, the extensive literature cannot be ignored [...] (p.xxxviii.)

[Rejects the idea that] postcolonial discourse is “enabled by poststructuralist theory” (p.xxvii.)

Introduction: Master & Servant
Memmi observes that “the rebellious colonised begins by accepting himself as something negative”, perhaps bearing out Roman Polanski’s succinct statement that “all relationships are based on the model of the master and the servant” (Independent on Sunday, 1992)  – although, as I shall later argue, the implied subordination of that relationship can be challenged. (p.1.)

Ireland is absent from consideration in the majority of studies and anthologies relating to post-colonial theory and the post-colonial experience. (p.2.)
Mission civilatrice (pp. 7, 8.)

In Ireland, for example, despite the fact that some writers find it difficult to express their Irishness through the medium of the English language, they [8] are part of a worldwide idea that a form of “english”, rather than “English”, can be adopted without embarrassment. (p.8.)

Rage is the first epiphany of the suppressed, based on the colonised’s sense of hurt. Resistance is the second stage in the process of emergence [...] (p.9.)

The notion that some vital part of the national spirit or culture may have been – or almost certainly had been – lost during the period of colonisation [...] (p.9.)

Walcott: “a literature of recrimination and despair, a literature of revenge [...] or a literature of remorse” (p.9.)

The significance of the impact of international post-colonial theory is arguable (p.20); Since it is the purpose of my study to indicate some of the parallels between Irish writing and writings of other post-colonial societies, any differences of kind or emphasis [...] must be explored (p.21.)

Fintan O’Toole: “By retaining a notion of a real, true Ireland of nature and landscape and sturdy peasantry, it has been possible to modernise the country, to turn it into a profitable base for American multinational industry [...] while still believing that the heart of the nation remains pure.” [Crane Bag, 9/2, 1985; p.23.)

While there are two sides to the argument of whether an artist should or should not sublimate his own aesthetic interests to the supervening requirements of the state (we find it in the ambivalence in the USSR of both Shostakovich and Prokofiev), we must also recall Brian Friel’s emphatis (even if tentative) belief that “I see no reason why Ireland should not be ruled by poets and dramatists”. On either side of the coin, blood – whether physical or metaphorical – will be spilt. (p.25.)

It would be unwise to ignore the anthropological work of Victor Turner and the Ndembu people of Zambia, and also his studies in Mexico and Brazil, in which he drew out the performative naure of ritual which is drama without necessarily being a piece of theatre, emanating from religious customs [28; ...] The concept of the irreducible, the core, whether it is a personal or a communal core, is intimately wedded to that of the home, the heimlich, which in the colonial period, becomes suppressed as unheimlich [...] but in Turner’s work is explicitly chthonic. (p.28.)

Bhabha: “culture only emerges as a problem [...] at the point at which there is a loss of meaning in the contestation and articulation of everyday life, between classes, genders, races and nations.” (p.29.)

Memmi [on “indigenous language”:] “the role of the colonised writer is too difficult to sustain [so that] “only one natural solution is left; to write in the coloniser’s language”, leading him to “clamour for his own.” (p.29.)

Brian Friel: “We have all been educated in an English system, we were brought up in school reading Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats. We must accept this [...] We must make English identifiably our own.” (p.30.)  

Irish Mind since Independence

Chap. 1: “So Familiar and So Foreign”: James and the End of the Canon
Joyce [...] created a “Hiberno-English” idiom which was entirely of and for its place, yet which achieves universality in its wholeness, its self-possession and its radiance – the three qualities which Joyce, following Aquinas, considered necessary for what he called an “epiphany”. Since then, writers in other post-colonial environments have embarked on similar journeys of literary emancipation with political dimensions, in [52] order to espace the prescriptive nature of a tradition that is not theirs and to effect an epiphany that is theirs. (pp.52-53.)

In order to see Joyce as a post-colonial Irish writer whose work had ramifications in the sphere of aesthetic politics, it is not necessary to regard politics as “central to the formation of his aesthetics” (L. Orr, in Joyce Imperialism & Colonialism, p.1.) [...] Joyce’s “manifest political content and ideological discourse”, as Vincent Cheng calls it [Critique], is not manifest to critics and certainly not to all readers. Writing, for Joye as for many non-aligned and uncommitted artists, may be subversive of a canon and a tradtion, or ideed of literary taste, without being intended as an anti-colonial stragegy, or employe din the specific political interests of anti-colonial polemics. (p.56.)

Joyce achieves two different but related forms of change through this rebellion [viz., Seamus Deane’s remark that, for Joyce, “rebellion was the act of writing”.] Firstly, in Seamus Heaney’s words, in Ulysses “the English language opens like a pack of cards in the hands of a magician.” Secondly, he took the genre of the Western novel where it had never been before; as with the Latin American writers [...], he showed us a narrative retreating into untellable, invisible Being, unreachable space and non-experiential time. (p.57.)

Joyce’s act of refusal to accept the canon of English literature was a decivilising and destabilising act, and as such it ran parallel to the creation [58] of an independent Irish state which attempted to revert to its own pre-colonial autonomy, mores and forms of expression. In his short story “The Dead” [...] Jocye showed us the contradictions betweeen “authentic”, traditional Ireland and the challenges that lay ahead. (p.59.)

The debate about the nature and validity of a literary canon circles around the question of authority. It reflects the confusion that is in our minds and hearts about our purpose on this planet, and whether our future has any organic relationship to the past. (p.59.)

The fact that throughout the world writers are subverting the [60] English language in order to give expression to un-English thoughts and emotions should not obscure the fact that, parallel to linear writing which is predominantly masculine and goal-driven, there is a literature of circularity, of which Irish is the prime example, which is predominantly feminine, and concerned with the constant re-invention and concealment of the centre – what Gide, writing of Wilde, called “a deep central emotion”. / The chief motive in dealing with this deep central emotion is to redefine the self [...] (p.61.) [Note: quotes L. Honko on mythic v. historical time in ftn.]

The literature of the divided self is laden with inferences of cultural fragmentation and potential dismantling of the two most powerful paradigms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries [...] Ireland provides an example of a state of mind which did not have to wait for Einstein and Freud in order to exemplify all the anxieties of the modern world in its emergence from the dark corridor of the nineteenth century. (64-65.)

Readers of the Portrait have tended to implicitly read the expression “so familiar and so foreign” as “so familiar but so foreign”. But Joyce was quite decidedly marrying to two together rather than divorcing them, acknowledging their complementarity and their symbiosis. In this he was profoundly Irish and at the same time acknowledging in addition the deepest preoccupations of nineteenth-century Europe.

It is therefore hardly surprising to readings of Joyce that Freud goes on to adduce the face that the heimlich and unheimlich are not so much contrary and irreconcilable as dual representations of the same truth. Within the house, the homely, there is secreted a thing withdrawn from strangers, which thereby becomes in itself and to itself, a strange thing. It [72] now becomes clear that the entire vocabulary of Stephen’s remorseful reflection on his relationship with the English language is permeated by the relationship of the homely and uncanny with the leitmotif of Anglo-Irish literature in the nineteenth century, what Freud calls “something repressed which recurs”. “Home”, “master”, “spirit”, “soul”, “shadow” – all these are poured down the neck of the Irish tundish from the psyche of an Ireland preoccupied with its proximity to, and yet its distance from, the familiar and the foreign, into a modernist world preoccupied with an iconoclasm and a deconstruction of the foreign and a restitution and rehabilitation of the familiar. (pp.72-73.)

For Joyce, in the manifold confusions expressed in the Portrait, and its precursor, Stephen Hero, the essential quest was for his own self, for the irreducible epiphany which embodies both master and servant, for the soul that must be must be saved. It therefore takes little critical effort to make the connection between the effect of the uncanny – what Freud calls “silence, exile and cunning” – and Joyce’s threefold weaponry of “silence, exile and cunning”. (p.73.)

The Canon
Whose face is revealed in the portrait of the author? Is it our own story or that of another? Is a set of commandments grave in stone by our fathers, or a tale to be recast by those who come after?
  These questions have a circular resonance in Ireland, where biography, history, poetry, sociology and politics merge into a mixture of genres. Why? [Ireland’s] uniqueness lies in the fact that it existed not a thousand miles away, at the elbow of the Empire: it was continually writing back and talking back, not in Kiswahili or Gikuyu but in a language “so familiar and so foreign”, a tongue that seemed to be English but said unEnglish things, which provided that Empire with the voices of Burke, Swift, Sheridan, Parnell and Wilde – with Yeats, who declared “I owe my soul to Shakespeare” in the same breath as he affirmed the essential difference between Irish culture and the mere civilisation of England.
  In Ireland, the post-colonial experience has thus been recurring in literary terms since the emergence of a written culture from the oral. Orature [sic] is as vital today in the Irish theatre as it was in the Kenyan or the Nigerian. In recent times, the role of literature in shaping the dynamics of cultural nationalism can be identified in the work of writers such as Douglas Hyde and W. B. Yeats but immediately before them we can identity Oscar Wilde and his parents (quoted in the Introduction), Sheridan Le Fanu, Samuel Ferguson and before them Maria Edgeworth. [... F]or every Irish writer who has explored the dilemma of difference and discontinuity there is an antecedent writer who has already travelled over the terrain.
  Because Ireland lived within the Empire yet had no real function, no place on its linear trajectory, it lived a circular lie, continually reinventing its texts, predicting the circularity of Ulysses [...] providing the world with the nomadic figures of the tramps in Synge’s and Yeats’s and Beckett’s dramas, the wanderers circling an empty centre, strangers to themselves because they exist outside history. (p.77.)

Chap. 2: Turning the Hour-Glass - Yeats’s Transitus
I shall suggest, firstly, that the shape of the hour-glass (suggested by Yeats’s 1914 play of that title) is symbolic and symptomatic of the fact that, up to 1922, protestant activity provided the chief thrust of republicanism and of cultural nationalism; secondly, that in 1922, despite the inclusion of Protestants such as Yeats himself in the Irish Senate, the political, social and moral authority of protestantism was extinguished; and thirdly – and most importantly in the light of the growing momentum today of an all-Ireland political culture – that the lower part of the hour-glass has begun to fill once more with the essence of protestant thought, as evidenced throughout Ireland in the new acceptability and desirability of individual thought, responsibility and creative action. (p.82.)

As a post-colonial phenomenon [...] the history of this dispossession, this eviction from reality, is merely the prelude to a re-entry into the order of things. Ireland under these conditions became an intensely literary and linguistic culture, using language to construct an alternative reality which was more successful than actions could ever be in giving voice to the way that experience is perceived and reformulated.
 As the schoolmaster explains in Friel’s Translations [89; quotes:]

certain cultures expend on their vocabularies and syntax acquisitive energy and ostentations entirely lacking in their material lives [...] It is a rich language ...] full of the mythologies of fantasy and hope and self-deception - a syntax opulent with tomorrows. [Plays 1, p.418.; here p.90.]

If stereotypical Irishmen had no direct access of their own to a shared reality, then the Irish way of thinking about the world, promulgated by Yeats and his coterie, became an alternatice referential context. Out of it came fable, drama and epic, attended by a gamut of psychological idioms - irony, paradox and oxymoron - all of which have their basis in the forms and cadences of folklore. In the celtic twilight where things seem “different”, “otherness”, the access to an other world, a different order of reality is a metaphorical act of translation, and much of modern Irish literature is an attempt to re-translate, to carry back the sense of reality from the otherworld to here.
 [Richard] Kearney has summed up the characteristics of the Irish mind in simple terms: decentredness, double-vision and exile, and has suggested that we should no longer separate “artist and thinker”, “imagination and reason” in contemplating these concepts. (The Irish Mind, p.14; here 90.)

The narrow space between colonisation and full autonomy – the neck of the hour-glass – is a very dangerous place, as relationships are redefined and new forces, previously impossible or inconceivable, become visible, articulate, and active. (p.93.)  [Cf., danger zone, p.524.)

I repeat what I wrote in my Preface: “[...] The force of freedom is sometimes greater than the writer’s capacity to embrace it – the surprise and the shock of the new.” [...] Most Irish writers, both before and after independence, have exhibited the fears associated with freedom, with negotiating the essential nature of difference and its challenges, whether it is sexual, religious or cultural difference. (p.94.)

Quotes Yeats’s Hour Glass (1914): “[...] Only in spiritual terror can the Truth / Come through the broken mind.”  In the concept of the “broken mind” [....] Yeats was suggesting that the rupture between anglo-Ireland and gaelic Ireland but a rupture in the matter of Irishness itself – a discontinuation of its narrative. He was laying claim to the kind of genius that he believed was vital to the successful unity of the new Ireland, which [...] could reconstitute the syntax which would inevitably be broken, meanings both private and public which would be suspended if not fatally abrogated. And he was saying that no man or ideology had the right to excoriate another from the business of Irishness or, indeed, the validity of Irishness itself. (p.99)

The nature of history itself – was it “true”?, can we “believe” it? – and the nature of fiction, something which, because it is invented, has literally been both fabricated and found, are on collision courses in all our consciousness. Shakespeare has a drunken Irishman asking “What is my nation?” Three hundred years later, Shaw is still asking the question in John Bull’s Other Island. It is almost as if the twentieth-century Irishman is determined to relish the embarrassment that exists in the clash of what Steiner calls “the fundamentals of the tragic debate” – law, native earth, divinity and justice. (p.114.)

[Note: later quotes Steiner on the “principal points of conflict in the condition of man”: “the confrontation of men and women; of age and youth: of society and the individual; of the living and the dead; of men and gods.” p.115; Steiner, Antigones, p.231.)

Chap. 3: Embarrassment - Brian Friel as an Angry Young Man
History remains the problem [...] and a major litmus test is the question of how words are used to describe the past, how, in fact, we translate the incommunicable burden of the past into the undreamable chaos of the future. Regaining paradise is a quite unrealistic exercise if one cannot actually define and describe the paradise which has been lost. (p.123.)

[...] At the core of the contemporary Irish debate is the question of thought, both thought or cogitation in itself and in relation to history. The Irish mind conditions the strategies of Irish literature in its relation to politics. Joyce’s agenda is “to forge in the smith of my soul the untreated [sic] conscience of my race”. In doing so, each surrenders himself to the constant condition, and epiphany, of the Irish psyche – the pursuit, down the millennia, of time and experience, in words which are often rebutted, denied or refracted by both time and experience. As Joyce called it on another occasion, “to write a chapter in the moral history of my country” – while at the same time spiritually liberating himself. Every Irish writer [123] writes autobiographically with the same dual quest, partly because of the political imperative to forge both conscience and modern identity, and partly because of the “specific universals” of psychological embarrassment. [...] But the problem for the Irish writer, looking into the mirror for the recognition that would allow him to say “I am”, is rooted in some kind of psychic incapacity. (pp.123-24.)

There is [...] no doubt about the relationship of art and politics, or of culture and society. What remains is the business of making a world elsewhere, a world where consciousness and the world might be united, bringing possibility of its accouchement.
  It may be, as Conor Cruise O’Brien maintains, an “unhealthy intersection”, and one which some ideologues would like to see better policed, but it is, like Wonderland, a place potent myths can generate strange narratives displaying a sense of history, of the macabre, of the mis-fit between self and otherness, between so-called reality and so-called unreality, in hallucinating upon what is, after all, merely fiction.
  But “to put the little green island in order” is made difficult by the fact that the Irishman is embarrassed when he looks himself in the face. Like Banville’s Copernicus and Gabriel Godkin, he is somehow more comfortable in the dis-ease of looking over his shoulder at a mocking alter ego or half-brother. (p.131.)

Chap. 4: A Guest of Cultural Politics - The Legacy of Thomas Moore
Could the mere fact that Stanford undertook an edition of the Melodies – albeit within the general rubric of the European folk-song revival – indicate at least a subliminal nationalism on his part? (p.158.)

One of the tragedies of Irish much is that at the crucial period when its treasures were being recognised, no effort was made to connect those treasures – to build bridges – with those of other cultures, such as Hungary’s, where Bartok and Kodaly were contemporaneously mapping not only the wealth of folk music but also its possible contribution to a new national music for an emergent sense of separate nationality. Content with asserting the extent of the folklore of traditional Ireland, and also the uniqueness of the trove, those with cultural power at this period were too concerned with establishing “Ireland” to take note of the “Irelands” elsewhere. (p.158.)

In fact nationalism in Ireland approximates in only a few aspects to the models of political mobilisation proferred by the major texts on the subject. [...] it sought to create a sense of nationhood, and ultimately a nation-state, where there had previously been only a tenuous and unarticulated idea of “Irishness”, reduced by inhibitions imposed by centuries of British rule to a level from which it would only rise by a major act of the imagination. (p.159; possible suggestion of 1916.)

The absence of such musical development [instanced by Arland Copland’s thoughts on “folk or popular art” and nationa music] is cardinal to our understanding of the other forms of cultural nationalism in late nineteenth-century Ireland. [...] It would be disingenuous to vilify Moor’s motivation as the chief cause of this absence, and it would be foolish to ignore the complex way in which his musical legacy [...] contributed to that battle. (p.165.)

Chap. 5: Shame and History - Denis Johnston and Salman Rushdie

Chap. 6: Migrations - Denis Johnston and Salman Rushdie

accosting English (p.219.)

At this point I will start to make a tentative connection between Rushdie’s view of history and that of some Irish writers. [...] The affinity of Ireland and India defies traditional polarisation of east and west, as Yeats argued when he said that until the Battle of the Boyne, Ireland belonged to Asia.” By this he meant that until the march of empire established the rule of logic and logocentricism, Ireland was a predominantly mythopoeic country. It has been argued that the distinctive characteristic of the Irish mind is its inclusive faculty rather than its exclusivity: thus whereas Aristotelian logic practises the principle of excluded middle – that a thing is either one thing or another, but cannot be both – the Irish mind argues for the included middle – “both/and” rather than “either/or”. (p.241; cf.: We have heard before of the arrival of Graeco-Roman culture [... &c.; p.336ff.).

But this approach makes a terrible mess of the novel form – “as we know it”. It completely subverts the idea of a sequential storyline and replaces a logocentric way of thinking with a largely mythopoeic one. We are in the territory of Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, Beckett’s The Unnameable, Marquez” One Hundred Years of Solitude and Llosa’s The Green House. [...] But the work of Eavan Boland, to which I have already alluded, offers us even more telling comparisons. If work by Irish male writers make it clear that the Irish imagination has been profoundly colonised, both by English ideas of empire and by its own mythology, then writing by Irish women testifies to the fact that they have been doubly colonised. (p.242.)

The crucial fact of modern Irish writing is that if Irish writers have had to find their own voice, Irish women have had to find their own voices both as women and as writers. Finding that voice has been a profoundly  political and aesthetic activity. (p.243.)

Their experience attests to the fact which is implicit in the work of Friel, of Yeats, of Joyce, and the rhetoric of Robert Emmet, that without the women’s voices, Irish men are incapable of self-government. Or , if the Irish people cannot construct effective, inclusive narratives, they will never find their way home. (p.244.)

Perhaps only the word “woman” is untranslateable [sic] in Ireland. (p.245.)

The ultimate paradox for many Irish writers [...] is that the noise of myth reverberates in the silence, that when we begin to articulate myth, the shadow she speaks of comes to life and becomes the savage god. (p.247.)

If Rushdie deserves the attention and acclaim of Irish readers, it is not because his life was threatened irrationally, from a far place, but because his work is an eloquent and perceptive and effective commentary which gives voices to the man and the woman, the writer and the whore, which each of us recognises in ourself. (p.249.)

Chap. 7: Island to Island - Ireland and Greece
Liam O’Flaherty and Alexandros Papadiamandis.

Chap. 8: Map-Making - Ireland and Africa
[On Translations:] Friel is telling us we can never be at home, especially with ourselves. / And because we constantly seek to overcome the impossibility of decoding, we slip partially into each other’s personalities, on the fringe of each other’s territory, in an effort to leave our own barbarity and take on the other’s civility. Inevitably there are casualties, many of them accidental, as simple folk try to find their way through lands which others” fear has turned into a minefield of meaning. / In such circumstances, all we can do is to draw uncertain, tentative maps [...] (p.304.)

Telling one’s story, or having it told for one, is a way of becoming memorable. [...] Much of today’s post-colonial writing, whether it is the revisionism of Irish historiography, the South African “sixties” novelists, or the new voices of Nigerian or Kenyan writing, is concerned with a reappraisal of that material, as it has been handed down to us, in order to reveal alternative histories, alternative narratives. Although it is the inherent, inescapable function of art to transform reality – to enhance it, to distort it, to certify it – it is only now that the long interlude of Renaissance certainty is being turned back to the exploration of the nature of reality itself. (p.307.)

Chap. 9: Banana Republics - Ireland and Latin America
Ireland’s parturition – and partition – as a post-colonial state still bears the marks of a past that cannot be either forgotten or forgiven; the doubts expressed above, concerning whether or not the initial ambitions for the foundation of an Irish republic have been realised, have caused many Irish people to wonder whether Ireland can also be regarded as a “real” nation, especially in the light of Emmet’s unwritten epitaph. (p.337.)

The twentieth century saw not only resistance to dictatorship and its attendant neo-colonialism, but also a corresponding sense of the place of religion in people’s minds, with “liberation theology” manifesting itself in figures such as Archbishop Helder Camara in Brazil. (p.337.) 

[...] Two forms of transformation fuse in the chthonic, the absolutely local, where the Christian gospel has been a living presence in the grassroot communities which have been exhibiting the most basic search for justice. (p.338.)

When Llosa speaks of the “violence and marvels” of early Latin American literature, [...] he does not lay the blame entirely on the Inquisition or the Spanish colonists: in an echo of Shakespeare’s Mark Anthony (“the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves that we are underlings”), Llosa acknowledges “we are the conquistadors” – a chilling confirmation of the argument of post-colonial [338] theorists that under a new regime similar traits of behaviour will manifest themselves, especially if the slave mentality has not been sufficiently modified by the onset of freedom. (pp.338-39.)

Countries which have experienced civil war or coups d”état within living memory [...] or in which the divisions of civil war continue to manifest themselves in societal and political formations (such as Ireland) will also observe divisions among those responsible for the narrative of “history”. (p.339.) 

Readers familiar with the Irish situation need no reminder of the emotive, as well as the economic, condition of both the Republic and the Northern Ireland “statelet” caused by the partition of the island in 1922 and the subsequent civil war between those who accepted the Treaty with Britain (which led to partition) in order to bring the Irish Free State into a tenuous existence, and those who regarded the Treaty as a betrayal of the republican ideal, which has fuelled the angst which the continuance of the border occasions, in many nationalists on either side of it. (p.341.)

[...] In such circumstances, the use of the ubiquitous phrase “a sense of national identity was forged ...” invites a sceptical judgement as to the ambiguous interpretation of the word “forged” – so great have been the question-marks over the divisive issues contained within the term “identity”. [...] There can thus be a context in which a people tries to tell itself an acceptable story which will fulfil the requirements of reality. [342; ... The] political use of magical realism – to make the present bearable even if not comprehensible – is utterly congruent with its function in literary terms. (pp.342-43.)

Magic Realism
When we encounter an expression (in an attempt to define magic realism) such as “something too strange to believe”, we are entitled to [343] immediately consider the Irish collective experience of history, politics and literature in the same vein. [..] If “too strange to believe” is regarded as beyond the intelligence of the modern western mind, then the expression “Grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented” [...] takes its place in an imaginative history that connects modern life in Ireland with the sources of wonder and amazement that we find in the romances of Lady Morgan and the evasions and double-entrendres [sic] of Thomas Moore’s “Irish Melodies”. One thinks immediately of a situation which should be, but is not, qualitatively different from that of modern Ireland; the uncertainty of Latin American literature and political affairs where, as Rushdie says of Marquez, “the only truth is that you are being lied to all the time.” (p.343-44.)

Where Joyce saw the English language as “so familiar and so foreign”, Morgan (and Maria Edgeworth) makes Ireland “foreign and familiar” to English readers. Ireland becomes “a region of wonders”. / One has only to think of Vaughan’s “deep and dazzling dark” (anticipating the Gothic by a least a century) to appreciate the potential of such connections. The truth/fiction conundrum is itself an oxymoron which is central to life in literatures in any society which is unsure of where truth ends and fiction begins: if there is no border to be crossed, but only a natural and unconscious transitus from one state to another which is unrecognisable as we make it, then the unreality of every aspect of life is a condition to which one must become accustomed, if terminal bewilderment is not to be diagnosed. (p.346.)

Stress has been laid on the fact that magic realism is a product of miscegenation between coloniser and colonised, an attempt at a rapprochement between the cultures which lie at their backs, and the assumptions held within those cultures. This is no doubt a highly sustainable argument – the emergence of the whole body of Anglo-Irish literature exemplifies it – and it certainly serves the purposes of this study, but it is not the whole story: it is a sequel to, a response to, the existence of magic realism itself. [348; ...] Thus writing magic realism may well be a political act of assimilation, but in its first state it is not conscious of the need to reach such accommodation, it simply is. And it is essential to remind ourselves that use of the word “primitive” emphatically does not equate with “backward”: possibly “primeval”, with its signpost towards an antecedent age, is more appropriate. (p.349.)

[Takes issue with Todorov:] But it is precisely in “everyday life” that the mythologies of the Incas and the Irish peasants occur as revenants, not at all unlikely [...] to those who perceive and experience them [...] a fantastic epiphany [that] may be close to that intelligent sublimity, since that person is experiencing, like Juliana of Norwich), an out-of-world occasion” (p.350; with pointer to pp.361-62.)

[...] Irish writers such as John Banville and Dermot Healy have tried to be “different” by emphasising the magical, the unknown, the unseen, the unreal, the mystery which defies analysis by the logocentric mind, whereas in Latin America [...] despite the inescapable intrusion of the magical and even though it is locked into an unknown past, the onus has been on the writer to produce work that is modern and real. [Quotes Augusto Roa Bastos:] “The tasking of forging a literature without a past, born of a past without a literature, of bring it to expression in their own language” is part of the extremely complex onus of a Latin American writer. (p.351.)  

Borges’ earlier immersion in Irish thought is very significant. [Quotes Borges on his father’s introducing him to Berkeley’s Idealism...; 354] It is most likely that Borges would have known that Berkeley once announced that “We Irishmen” thought differently to contemporary materialists: Yeats not only espoused Berkeley’s declaration because in his view it made possible “the whole life of the nation” [Senate Speeches, p.172], but incorporated the expression into his poem “The Statues”: “We Irish, born into that ancient sect ...” which attempts to establish a link between modern-day Irish thinking and the “intellect” of ancient Greece. (pp.354-55.)

Two interrelated themes in Yeats’s work are cognate with those in Latin American writing.The first is his insistence on the continuing validity of the Celtic imagination, the second, within the first, is the idea that there is an “other” orld whch is spernatural and is a vigorous and demonstrable presence in the modern Ireland which he [...] was anxcious to make into a force in the new Ireland (p.356.)

Yeats was, in fact, “forging” his disparate and occasional writings into a work of literature, a canon of folklore, for the use of future generations. In doing so it can be argued, he was predicting Heidegger’s argument that one “creates one’s own history [...] projecting [it] with anticipatory resoluteness towards one’s future” and thuse hoping to achieve a cohesiveness not merely of the folklore itself but of future folk themselves. ([...] p.357.)

Yeats convinced himself that “The recent revival of Irish literature has been largely a folklore revival, an awakening of interest in the wisdom and ways of the poor, and in the poems and legends handed down among the cabins.” In this assertion he was making a claim for the “authentic” rather than the writing of history, and he was making the case for our seeing these workd and ancilliary texts as a book which was neither history nor fable, but a form of mythistorima, a meeting place of the real and the unreal. In doing so, he created for himself and, he hoped, for a wide readership, a “real” world, in which the beliefs and legends were designed t be read as literature, but connected symbiotically with the “other” world, in which “the imagination of the people dwells rather upon the fantastic and the capriciious. (“The Prisoners of the Gods”, in Welch, ed., Writings on Folklore, p.155.) Although Yeats employed the term “the others” to refer to the sidhe of fairies, he was at pains [...] to emphasise that the “other” world was populated not only by fairies but also by ghosts, mythological gods and heroic figures, with which the peasantry, in whom the old beliefs were still alive, were in regular and normal contact.

He also, therefore believed that what would today be called “magical realism” was an essential factor in the popular imagination. (pp.356-57.)

Juliana of Norwich
The nearest parallel with Latin American writing in Western literature is in fact hardly Western at all, because it occurs before the Renaissance reinvented the civilisation of Greece and Rome. This is the mystical metaphysics we find principally in the Revelations of Divine Love (by the nun Juliana of Norwich), in the fourteenth century: to be precise on 8 May 1373. I mention this because it seems to be to underline a vital element mentioned by Borges [... 360; quotes Juliana:] “There is absolutely nothing between my God and me”. I mention this not because it has any post-colonial relevance but because it is pre-colonial, before the spirit of Protestant capitalism change the perception and motivation of the medieval world, and therefore cognate with both the pre-Spanish folklore of Latin America and the mythologies of Celtic Ireland. It allows us a glimpse into the hermetic, the private cellular life of the mind, before it became subject to the public world and its predominant ideas. It belongs to the allegorical rather than the narrative sense, requiring no metaphor, no means of understanding, between ourselves and myth. It is a Gothic, prefigurative imagery without the layers of romantic storyline which history has subsequently laid on it. (pp.360-61.)

[On Juliana, see also p.350: “an out-of-world occasion which is nevertheless simultaneously of and in this world.”]

In Latin American literature we reach the epicentre of the relation between self and Other, which is at the heart of all writing by both the coloniser and the colonised, and which provides the greatest angst and challenge for the post-colonial who knows that he or she is the hermaphrodite, the hybrid conceived in, and still occupying, the “gap” or interstice between the begetters. (p.362.)

The discomfort of discovery that what was, or has been, familiar to us has become foreign; the uncertainly and insecurity experienced in the presence of the unheimlich, are the touchstones or principal motivations of imperial control exhibited in instruments such as Macaulay’s memorandum on Indian education, and his strictures on miscegenation and degeneracy in Ireland; and Lord Salisbury’s justification for the mapping of Ireland. (p.362.)

Cf.: We have heard before of the arrival of Graeco-Roman culture and its effects on a more primitive, or perhaps we should say primeval, culture, in Yeats’s cryptic remark [...]; a state that unites the Celtic Twilight with the god-populated Amazon basin. And where do we find that cultural clash between the modern and the aboriginal more clearly than, in one continent, Llosa’s The Green House (1965) [...] and, in the other, in Joyce’s Portrait and Ulysses, in which he confronts the Judaeo-Christian tradition with his vision of the pagan, ferocious future? (p.336.)

From the conditions of Ireland and Latin America, we could infer that the post-colonial writer owes a debt to a heritage and a tradition that may or may not inhere in his own worldview but is undoubtedly within his consciousness; a heritage and a tradition, like the ghost of Michael Furey, that may stand behind him and his sense of the modern or, perhaps, against it. We could also infer that, like the Peruvians (as reported by Llosa), the Irish do not live in a real country, but one indentured to myth – a myth incapable of evaluation and beyond our capacity to understand. (p.367.)

The struggle to acknowledge the past, both pre-colonial and colonial, while assessing the possibilities offered by a set of post-colonial freedoms and constraints, is resident in every such writer, alongside the sense of “the dead”, one’s ancestors (whether familial or legendary) who exercise an affective pull on that consciousness.

[...] The colonial, at the same time, offers the change and, in the Irish case, the reality of assimilation, and, thereby, transformation. Only the post-colonial, which it is his or her duty to create, is uncertain and dangerous. (p.368.)

Chap. 10: Decline and Fall: Ireland, Greece & Transylvania
[I]n the Irish context, at least, it is necessary to see all the Anglo-Irish as one set, the British as another, and the republicans as a third. [This chapter] concerns itself only with the political and social aspects of the Anglo-Irish and their house [sic] on the eve of disintegration. (p.370.)

[Bowen:] “an inherent wrong” (p.391; cf. p.372; caption at 383)  Barbara Fitzgerald / Dermot Bolger (p.379.) Joyce Cary (“born-again coloniser”, p.308).

The idea that somehow, for inexplicable psychological reasons – perhaps the curse visited on the coloniser – houses could exert an affect on the people who built them permeates the literature. (p.376.)

Constantine Theotokis (1872-1923) (p.395.)

Miklos Banffy (b.1873) (p.408.)

If the “difference” is a simple one, of “us”, the colonisers, and “them”, the colonised, and if the revolution deposes one in favour of the other, then either the gap between them is unbridgeable and the colonisers, recognising this, leaves the field (as in the case of so many Anglo-Irish families) or an attempt is made at the hybrid, a merging of self into other and of other into self.  (p.420.)

In all of these situations [...[ we see a class of landed gentry, securely in possession, obeying the law of the mirror-image: becoming its other, the winner becoming the loser, the possessor being dispossessed, the manipulator of circumstance becoming its victim, passing through the resistance to change as fiercely, and with as [420] much bewilderment, as the colonised resisted colonial rule, and emerging on the “other” side of that passage inevitably and irrevocably changed. (p.421.)

The emotions which create the narratives of decline-and-fall are therefore subtly, but not qualitatively, different from those driving the narratives of liberation. [...] If, as Lawrence Durrell says, memory consists of “iron chains”, then colonisers and colonised are “handcuffed to history” (to repeat Rushdie’s phrase. But the history is in itself a narrative of difference. Where, conventionally, history is written by the victors, pre-independence narratives are written by the victims who in post-independence become the new victors. In the case of the Anglo-Irish class which had assisted in the silencing of the indigenous Irish, we now see them moving towards their own silence. (p.421.)

Chap. 11: The “Enigma” of Sean O Riada
[On Sibelius:] The music takes on a Finnish character not because Sibelius quoted directly from Finnish folk-song but because, combined with the technical aspects of the writing, a sense of Finnishness pervades the music.  (p.433.)

If Sibelius “became a central figure in his country’s struggle for independence”, O Riada attempted to explain why, in musical terms, Ireland was not yet independent, and, consciously or unconsciously – but more likely the former – tried to occupy a central place in the evolution of Irish music. If the crucial question in this study has been “what happens to an emerging country after it has emerged?”, O Riada’s answer would be that there are different degrees and phases of emergence, and Irish political independence, achieved in the years 1922-48, did not guarantee the emancipation of its music. In a sense, Sibelius fulfilled a destiny in Finland which O Riada attempted by did not achieve in Ireland. (p.435.)

Much lip service has been paid in Ireland to [the] method of inculcating an awareness, even a love, of music by means of the folk songs of one’s own country, but the effective refusal to implement it amounts to a display of post-colonial embarrassment at the expense of the Irish heritage.” (p.430.)

Sean O Riada encountered a similar ago [to Sibelius] in the sense that he sought a musical language for Ireland which would liberate Irish music from the hegemony of Europe. [...] O Riada never achieved that merger of Irishness and musical language in any satisfactory degree. (p.432.)

There remained a post-colonial imperative: to exit Irish music from the [433] European mainstream in which it seemed to be imprisoned, in the virulent polemic of Our Musical Heritage. This amounted to a new declaration of Irish independence. That he was prepared to go as far as to insist on the origins of Irish music in the Mediterranean and the Near East was a measure of his determination to make that exist as effective as possible. (p.434.)

In Charles Acton’s 1971 interview with O Riada and in their public exchange of letters very near the end of his life, there was an element of attempted coercion, because Acton felt that O Riada should have pursued the role of “the great composer” and had, instead, chosen a reclusive, non-cosmopolitan, lifestyle with what Acton called “self-indulgence and silence”. (p.436.)

[T]he schools system(s) put in place in Ireland by the British administration between 1830 and 1878 proved unsuitable to the inculcation of “Western” skills for the youth of Ireland [and] the change of administration in 1922 implicitly decided that music of all kinds was not a priority for emergent Ireland. If there is a failure of procedure, it stems from a failure of intent and indeed a failure of imagination, at a time when the gravest decisions were taken as to the political, social, economic and cultural future of the country. In musical terms, this is the equivalent of the erosion of the Irish language and toponymy signalled in Brian Friel’s Translations[.] (p.439.)

[T]he conservative, urban Protestant section of the population looked for its intellectual nourishment to the cultural diet of Britain and Europe, which included mainstream symphonic, oratorio and operatic traditions, whereas the nationalist, or republican, Catholic, rural section of the population looked to element unmistakeably Irish for its sense of identity. Both sectors, ironically, were looking for something of which they were unsure and which did not necessarily offer them what they needed. Both sectors would discover that they in fact had to invent that diet in order to sustain their ideas about identity and about where that sense of identity might lead them. (p.441.)

One rarely effected a transitus between the two. (p.442.)  White’s view that O Riada was “the great composer” manqué; that O Riada and the fate of Irish music were synonymous and coterminous. (p.453.)

Those who expected him to take Irish music-making so much further towards Europe than he was willing, or indeed further than it was capable of travelling. (p.457.) ... [O Riada] trenchantly made the case, in Our Musical Heritage, for the distinctive non-European character of Irish indigenous music. (p.457.)

In the context of this study of colonial and post-colonial resistance, we must ask: was it not inevitable that O Riada, like so many Irish artists – and, indeed, citizens generally – experienced a “great hurt” and tried, according to their abilities and inclinations, to set right what they perceived as the indignities of subservience, in the same vein of resistance as Frantz Fanon and writers in similar circumstances, rather than continuing to submit to those indignities: to celebrate freedom, however unsuccessfully, rather than continue to observe the canon of the coloniser? (p.465.)

There is no point in asking “what would have happened if ...?” [...] Some believe, perhaps based on the fact that he was capable of “moving on” from the Cuil Aodha phase, that he would have returned to the exploration of a possible integration of Irish and European musical styles. [...] Others, that he had abandoned that goal but would [467] found further depths in his work on Irish materials (pp.467-68.)

Chap. 12: What Does “Sorry” Mean?
The core of our problem with language, and therefore with meaning, is that on our interpretation of this single codeword of embarrassment depends the fate of people, cultures, societies, world order. Words such as “sorry” underline the fact that communication is, in theory only, shared, unembarrassed meaning is therefore impossible. “Sorry” is at once pleading and final, the expression of hope and also the extinction of that hope. It drops both the speaker and his audience into the depths between two types of opposing certainties which constitute the liminal and or interstitial place. / In my study of Friel, I have labelled this space “the gap” ... (p.484.)
“Sorry” indicates uncertainty because it is labile. It is necessary uncertainty because the labile nature of the word, whoever is using it, is inescapable. (p.485.)

In Ireland, both in the sixteenth century, with the onset of Elizabethan imperialism, and in the nineteenth, with Captain Lancey’s map-making, chaos and confusion are being ostensibly replaced by a superior sense of order, but it is extremely unclear whether any intrinsic meaning is being communicated between Ireland and England, because translation between such different cultures is problematic. On the personal level, we have to ask what can be more different, more polarised than the culture of man and the culture of woman, and we wonder how the transactions of the breakfast table and the marriage bed could not be fraught with misunderstanding. (p.486.)


The entire question of whether human society is ever possible becomes evident when we widen our discussion to the apparently small words such as “sorry”, which have no antonyms, to the “big” words, all of which have their opposite: love, peace, innocence, culture, always. [..] The central point of my argument – the impossibility of a completely shared, unproblematic meaning, especially between coloniser and colonised, and only slightly less between independent people – suggests in fact that human society will be at best unsafe, and more than likely tend towards the impossible. (p.487.)

People who are free do not say “sorry”. But those who are in search of freedom say it all the time. Once we verify a fact by embracing it, the urge to falsify it returns and we feel the need to slip out of that confusing certainty, that definition, and to re-enter the unformed world of infinite possibility. (p.492.)

Neo-colonialism & Industrial Schools
Although the “industrial schools” were under the supervision of the Department of Education, “sexual abuse by members of religion Orders was seldom brought to the attention of the Department of Education by religious authorities because of a culture of silence about the issue.” [...] Thus a system which had evolved during the period of British rule and which had continued with the knowledge of the State, after independence, in effect constituted a system within a system which was largely self-regulating and which could be construed as neo-colonial. [...] This neo-colonialism can be detected in the following finding by the Ryan Report: “a disturbing element of the evidence [...] was the level of emotional abuse that disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children were subjected to generally by religious and lay staff in institutions.” The Irish, whom we might categorise as “black” under “white” rule, had become “white” but now treated their custodees as “blacks”. (p.495.)

All the quotations I have introduced from the Ryan and McAleese reports suggest that the phenomena of silence, intimidation, unjust stigmatisation, the sense of being written out of history, the changing of names (with “erosion of identity”) and the condition of alienation and displacement expressed in the statement that “they did not know why they were there”, are of the same order as those to be found in classic cases of colonialism. (497.)

Self-determination demands that “sorry” is possessed unconditionally – a condition which both master and servant know to be impossible. (p.502.)

Chap. 13: “Perhaps I”m Twins”
I believe Brian Friel’s genius has created metaphors in order to bridge the unformed nexus between private meaning and public syntax, creating meanings that have both public and private resonance. (p.503.)

[Quotes BF:] “There are demands which have got to be resisted – the demands of the tribe.” (Interview with Lawrence Finnegan, in Essays; here p.509.)

Despite its current concession of fiscal sovereignty to extra-national powers, and despite the possibly unbridgeable division in Northern Ireland between catholics and protestants, the principle state under discussion, the republic of Ireland, is a relatively civilised society compared with other post-colonial situations where independence continues to be contested and bitterly, often bloodily, divisive. Even if there is a bifurcation within the modern Irish state, its violence is subsumed within a sense of civil order which is painfully missing in societies further along this calibrated spectrum. (p.526.)

There are significant dangers in a study such as the present, of which the principle is that of continuing to rely on well-worn statements which, however evocative and resonant with rhetoric, tend to diminish in effectiveness as social and cultural change adds other dimensions to what had at first seemed a singular and simple dilemma. [...] The endless iteration of “war cries” from the “literature of combat” continues to identify the originary ills and hurt of colonialism, but cannot cure or solve them. Revolutions and coups d”état attempt to do so, but in many cases the lessons of history suggest otherwise. In fact, each reiteration [527] keeps those ills alive, constantly rekindles the hurt like a mantra of loss out of the silence of non-existence. We would do well to ponder the platitude, “forgive us our platitudes and forgive those that cliché against us.” (Spoken by the lawyer James Kavanagh in the Carlton UK Television series Kavanagh Q.C., 1998.) (pp.52-28.)

Every community relies on narrative, and most believe that they need a hyper-narrative [sic], an epic to express their identity. (p.529.)

There is a conclusion – not inescapable but so compelling as to appear at times undeniable – that the achievement of freedom from one condition entails the submission of both individual and group to another condition, which in its turn will require the surrender of certain aspects of identity. (p.530.)

A unitary, monolithic nation-state in such circumstances is impossible: a country cannot be held together by its people’s shared reliance on, or hatred of, the coloniser’s language. Another concept, another practical project, another bridge, must be found. (p.531.)

So often it seems that the “nation” impedes an understanding of “state” and vice versa, just as civil and religious laws may hamper each other’s jurisdictions. (p.532.)

The danger of nationalism, in pursuing the idea of nation, will metamorphose a belief system into a creation myth, bestowing on the supposed nation a spurious pre-historic or pre-colonial identity and ethos, is very great. (p.533.)

The two polarised communities in Northern Ireland are more likely to be held together in some form of “make-believe” – however [533] tenuous and full of mutual suspicion – than by exposure of the root causes and actions that make them so divided, however necessary it may be to enlist a “commission of reconciliation” [...] as a panacea which time reveals to be a merely placebo. The official handshakes and the ostensible rapprochement of the peace process underpin, rather than resolve, a situation which, one fears to say, no condition of post-colonialism can solve or even ameliorate.  / In Britain the implosion of empire, and nation-state, is acute [..; 534.]

With tragedies such as the recent school massacre [25 Feb. 2014], one has to ask not merely why post-colonialism has not worked but, from the perspective of this study, how such acts are to be written about in poetry, drama, novels or other narratives, written or spoken or sung. (p.534.)

In a late work, Decolonization and the Decolonized (2004), Albert Memmi [...] identifies and laments one of the problems with freedom: the failure to eradicate the ills of colonialism. (p.543.)

As far as corruption is concerned, Achebe attributes its evils to the Nigerian character because it has been subject to a corrupt system and which it therefore considers permissible – perhaps, commentators might say, inevitable – to emulate. It’s a characteristic common to many suppressed people, Irish or Greek, for example, whose character have been permeated by centuries of resistance to the external authority of the coloniser [...] in which resistance encourages, and perhaps makes necessary, a secrecy and subtle cunning and duplicity in affairs large and small. (p.546.)

In some ways, the history of Ireland after independence can be represented as a straight line: the pursuit of stability and effective government. But it can also be told as the continual epiphany of the unexpected or unwanted, signally a failure of that straight line – history repeating itself in a cyclic, non-linear fashion, the re-invention of the wheel, indicating that the country needed more of a modern polity in order to pursue its narrative. (p.549.)

If an individual, a family, a group, a community, a tribe, a national people, are deprive of, or lose, their identity, that function of story- and truth-telling becomes impossible. Much of this study has been concerned with what is to be told, how and by whom it is to be told, and how it is to be discussed and judged. If we are obliged, by reason of the semantics of post-colonialism, to ask “what does ‘to mean’ mean?”, then the entire edifice of post-colonial narration is arrested, suspended while that crucial ontological question is approached, addressed, and – maybe – answered. (p.552.)

In the fact of so much mayhem of post-colonial societies, theory must surrender to the undeniable. However carefully psychology or anthropology may probe these wounds, one cannot theorise despair or sperectomy. But we have to assume that there will always be story-tellers and narratives to describe the condition. [End; p.553.]