By Mary Jean Corbett
Corbett explores fictional and nonfictional representations of Ireland's dating with England during the 19th century. She considers the makes use of of familial and family metaphors in structuring narratives that enact the ''union'' of britain and eire. Corbett situates her readings of novels through Edgeworth, Gaskell, and Trollope, and writings via Burke, Engels, and Mill, in the various old contexts that form them. She revises the severe orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that presently succeed in Irish and English experiences, and provides a clean standpoint on very important features of Victorian tradition.
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Extra info for Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold
In the novel’s representation of Ireland under the penal system, we will see as well how the attempt to consolidate colonial rule requires the representation of at least some of the competing elements that most threaten its hegemonic aim. In recent years, critical attention to Castle Rackrent has largely and eﬀectively focused on its colonial politics; in the eﬀort to locate both its author and its primary narrator in relation to the story the novel tells, the ambiguities of Thady Quirk’s voice and position have been especially scrutinized.
Her representations of the travels and travails of the colonial Irish past – as in a poem called ‘‘Conn’’ on the Flight of the Earls, an historical trauma that ‘‘every Irish child / counts back from / and no English kid’s ever known’’ (–) – are framed by a parallel experience of ignorance and indiﬀerence in the present. With the distance between lovers in Derry and London ceaselessly traversed by ‘‘muddled electric / cable under the sea’’ (‘‘WaterDiviner,’’ –), by e-mail, voice mail, and fax, the two islands seem to draw closer, even as they remain far apart.
In their economic and political eﬀects, the laws also determined familial relations in other ways that Burke found highly suspect. For example, a further penal stipulation (also repealed in ) had enabled an eldest son, upon conforming to the Church of Ireland, to reduce his catholic father to an estate for his life only, with the permanent, heritable rights to the property given over immediately to the son. ‘‘By this part of the Law, the tenure and value of a Roman Catholick, in his real property, is not only rendered extremely limited, and altogether precarious’’ – which to Burke’s way of thinking would be bad enough – ‘‘but the paternal power in all such families is so very much enervated, that it may well be considered as entirely taken away’’ (Writings and Speeches ).
Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold by Mary Jean Corbett