Spring 2004 • Vol. XXVI No. 2 Nonfiction |

New Ireland / Hidden Ireland: Reading Recent Irish Fiction

Reading Recent Irish Fiction Seeking the "lost land" of Ireland—a place of historical complexity and intense, if ambivalent, personal significance—poet Eavan Boland recalls first a Dublin street "of statues: / iron orators and granite patriots. / Arms wide. Lips apart. Last words" ("Unheroic," 6). Such a public thoroughfare is perhaps what evokes Ireland for most Americans, and indeed, from the vantage point of the nation's coming of age as a European state, not a former British colony, Irish identity might seem as secure, perhaps as banal, as a street full of monuments. Yet Boland is haunted by an alternate vision: the incidental memory of a man, a hotel resident, who "finished / his day of ledgers and telephones" to return to his room and secretly tend "a wound / from war or illness—no one seemed sure / which would not heal." When she seeks the "difficult knowledge" of her own country, Boland probes beyond the iron-hewn "certainties" of "Ireland hero history" to uncover

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Kim McMullen has been a member of the Kenyon English department since 1984, teaching courses in twentieth-century Irish literature, postmodern narrative, American modernism, American studies and James Joyce. Interested in the intersection of gender and nationality in contemporary Irish culture, she is currently completing a book entitled "Decolonizing Rosaleen: Gender, Sexuality, and Nationality in Contemporary Irish Literature and Film." Other research interests include the Irish literary heritage industry, the poetry of Eavan Boland and recent Irish fiction.

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