To be specified published in:Landscapes of Realism: Rethinking literary realism in comparative perspectives. Volume I: Mapping realism
Edited by Dirk Göttsche, Rosa Mucignat and Robert Weninger
[Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages XXXII] 2021
► pp. 373–386
Utopian island realism in J. M. Synge’s travel narrative of The Aran Islands and Tomás O’Crohan’s autobiography The Islander
What is the relationship between the “no-where” of utopian imagination and the realist impulse to represent faithfully the world in the here and now. This case study explores this question through an examination of the literary-spatial topos of the island in two key texts of twentieth-century Irish works of realist literature: Tomás O’Crohan’s Irish-language autobiographical work, The Islander (1937), and J. M. Synge’s diaristic travel narrative, The Aran Islands (1907). Reading these works comparatively, I link Synge’s and O’Crohan’s apparently sui generis representations of life on the western islands of Ireland to the broad literary and critical tradition of European realism and locate the influence therein of positivist, anthropological currents of thought as well as the cultural politics of post-imperial nation building. Working in dialogue with postcolonial, spatial, and Marxist criticism, this study articulates how a realist fixation on the spatial figure of the island in these works enables a form of culturally nationalist utopianism as well as an ambivalent form of spatially utopian discourse that resists geographical, cultural, and epistemological totalization.
- The utopian island: Real and imaginary
- Yeats’s dream, Synge’s island
- The blaskets: An autochthonous Island utopia
Published online: 21 April 2021
Headland, Thomas V., Kenneth L. Pike and Marvin Harris
Messenger Jr., John C.
Stephanides, Stephanos, and Susan Bassnett
Thomson, George Derwent, and Tim Enright
Yeats, William Butler