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This introduction to Salman Rushdie in Context focuses on the idea of storytelling so fundamental to Rushdie’s oeuvre. It delineates the manifold ways in which Rushdie animates the idea of the wonder tale in his works to open up the range of contexts covered in this volume. The introduction also offers a wider overview of Rushdie’s publishing career and his biography. It also considers the main themes with which his works engage, ranging from subcontinental politics, postmodernism, postcolonialism, and cosmopolitanism to popular culture and the wider themes of his works. It also delineates the structure of the book and highlights its thematic scope to delineate the different interpretative lenses with which this volume animates Rushdie’s works and his career as a writer.
The complicated reciprocities between self and world, roots and routes, local and global that galvanize theorists and advocates of cosmopolitanism have been career-long preoccupations of Rushdie. Opposed to exclusionary identity politics, cosmopolitan inclusiveness values commonalities of belonging, mixed identities, and respect for others’ lives, values, and cultures. The novel as a genre promotes such principles, and a typical Rushdie novel, with its panoramic and kinetic narrative, large cast of characters, temporal and spatial expansiveness, exuberant fusion of realism and magic, otherworldly forays, and dizzying range of references and allusions, seems to aspire to such inclusiveness in its form and style. Midnight’s Children thematizes an inclusive vision of India (and Bombay as its microcosm) that becomes attenuated and threatened in later novels. Migrant characters and overseas cities dominate The Satanic Verses and the late twentieth- and twenty-first-century novels, but as Rushdie the privileged middle-class Indian migrant author becomes Rushdie the controversial celebrity and member of global elites, cosmopolitanism as an ideal comes under pressure both within his books and in critical discourses surrounding them. This chapter argues that cosmopolitanism, whether achieved or merely aspired to, whether associated with celebratory or limiting visions of rootlessness, remains tenacious in its hold on his and his characters’ imaginations.
Salman Rushdie in Context discusses Rushdie's life and work in the context of the multiple geographies he has inhabited and the wider socio-cultural contexts in which his writing is emerging, published and read. This book reveals the evolving political trajectory around transnationalism, multiculturalism and its discontents, so prominently engaged with by Salman Rushdie in relation to South Asia, its diasporas, Britain, and the USA in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Focused on the aesthetic, biographical, cultural, creative, historical and literary contexts of his works, the book reveals his deep engagement with processes of decolonization, emergent nationalisms in South Asia, Europe and the USA, and diasporic identity constructions and how they have been affected by globalisation. The book traces how, through his fiction and non-fiction, Rushdie has profoundly shaped the discussion of important questions of global citizenship and migration that continue to resonate today.
The Cambridge Companion to Kazuo Ishiguro offers an accessible introduction to key aspects of the novelist's remarkable body of work. The volume addresses Ishiguro's engagement with fundamental questions of humanity and personal responsibility, with aesthetic value and political valency, with the vicissitudes of memory and historical documentation, and with questions of family, home, and homelessness. Focused through the personal experiences of some of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction, Ishiguro's writing speaks to the major communitarian questions of our time – questions of nationalism and colonialism, race and ethnicity, migration, war, and cultural memory and social justice. The chapters attend to Ishiguro's highly readable novels while also ranging across his other creative output. Gathering together established and emerging scholars from the UK, Europe, the USA, and East Asia, the volume offers a survey of key works and themes while also moving critical discussion forward in new and challenging ways.
Where the inner suburbs of south Dublin were Victorian, most of the development on the north side of the city has taken place in the twentieth century, so that historical layers – Georgian, Victorian, twentieth-century, and contemporary – sit adjacent to one another. Anne Enright’s Booker Prize-winning novel, The Gathering, makes use of this stratified cityscape, but it figures elsewhere, as well, including in recent crime fiction. As we move towards the old docklands in the north city, we find ourselves in a completely new cityscape, which is beginning to be explored by writers such as Paul Murray, while the older neighbourhoods nearby have been the territory of Conor McPherson’s plays; it was here, too, that Bram Stoker was born. However, the real challenge for contemporary Irish writing has been to invest the new largely working-class suburbs of north Dublin with the same kind of dense cultural associations as the historic city centre. The central figures here have been Paula Meehan, Dermot Bolger, and Roddy Doyle, whose fictional Barrytown is based on Kilbarrack where he grew up. Finally, at the limits of the city, we come to Howth, where Joyce’s Ulysses reaches its conclusion.
In many cities, it is often assumed that the residential suburbs are not the sort of place in which literary culture thrives. And, indeed, the work of one of the most prominent writers associated with the suburbs of south Dublin – Eavan Boland – has taken this idea as a major theme in her work. However, a closer analysis shows that south Dublin has long had rich literary associations, and it is this intersection of private and public that is the focus of this chapter. It was here that both James Joyce and G. B. Shaw were born, and where W. B. Yeats lived. The area was also a hive of activity during the Irish Literary Revival, whether in the school run by Patrick Pearse, or in the literary salons of George Russell (Æ). More recently, it has been associated with poets such as Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, as well as with Booker-winning novelist Anne Enright, whose novel Actress provides the chapter with a starting point. Far from being the quiet annex to the boisterous city-centre literary pubs, the south Dublin suburbs have been the site of intense literary activity of many kinds for the more than a century, a place where the intersections of public and private can be explored.
A defining characteristic of Dublin has been its repurposed Georgian buildings. Most of the north inner city was originally laid out as homes for the wealthy in the eighteenth century. However, by the nineteenth century the great city mansions of the north city were on their way to becoming some of the worst tenement slums in Europe; and much of the development of the twentieth century was focused on finding better accommodation for the tenement-dwellers. And yet the tenements and surrounding areas have produced a rich literary culture. The best-known example may be Seán O’Casey; however, there are others, including James Stephens, James Plunkett, Paula Meehan, and, of course, this part of the city is also closely linked with James Joyce’s writing, with substantial parts of Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners set here. It was also here that Brendan Behan grew up, and his work revolves around this area. In addition there are unexpected associations, such as the birthplace of Iris Murdoch. This chapter explores this literary world of the north inner city, in which sometimes extreme poverty and a vibrant sense of community coexist.
The campus of Trinity College Dublin is a paradox; on the one hand, it is a enclosed campus, cut off from the city around it by walls and gates; on the other, it is situated in the very heart of the city. Among its graduates are many of Ireland’s major writers, from George Farquhar in the seventeenth century, to Jonathan Swift, Edmund Burke, and Oliver Goldsmith in the eighteenth century, to Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde in the nineteenth century, and J. M. Synge in the early twentieth century. In the 1960s, many of the poets who would dominate Irish poetry in the decades that followed were students or staff: Eavan Boland, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanéin, Brendan Kennelly, and Paula Meehan. More recently, novelists Anne Enright and Sally Rooney have been graduates. This chapter looks at how over the centuries, the distinctive nature of Trinity’s space within the city – both enclosed and yet permeable – has provided a kind of oasis for conversation and writing, while still actively engaging with the life of the city around it.
The first chapter of Dublin: A Writer’s City provides a succinct historical framework for the spatial exploration of the city that follows, keyed to a series of historical colour maps. It begins with the earliest pre-Viking settlement, moving on to trace the evolution of Dublin from a seasonal Viking port to a walled medieval city by the beginning of the seventeenth century. From that small medieval city, Dublin in the eighteenth century grew to be a major European capital, site of a vibrant literary and print culture, which in turn gave rise to figures such as Jonathan Swift. Dublin continued to grow through the nineteenth century, until we arrive at the city of Joyce’s Ulysses in 1904. From that point onwards, the footprint of the city changes radically, as the old Georgian core is either demolished or repurposed, and new suburbs grow around the city, and these in turn develop their own literary cultures. Ultimately, this chapter suggests that we can imagine Dublin in terms of the rings in a tree, growing outwards from its historic core to new communities, each of which has a distinctive character that has been both chronicled and produced by its writers.
More than a century on, the modern history of Dublin continues to be dominated by the Easter Rising of 1916. Although the Rising took place all over the city, its focal point was the General Post Office, on O’Connell Street. This chapter takes as its keynote a paradox that emerges in the literature of O’Connell Street. On the one hand, it is here that a rebellion led by poets and playwrights has produced a site with a solemn historical memory attached to it. At the same time, the street itself has long had a carnivalesque quality, made possible by its original design as a place in which fashionable citizens could promenade, and continuing today. This tension emerges in major works by Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Seán O’Casey, and W. B. Yeats, as well as by more recent writers, including Roddy Doyle. The sense of paradox is heightened by the proximity of the Abbey Theatre, on the adjacent Abbey Street. Here, a living theatre culture carries on a tradition begun by Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904, contributing to the distinctive character of this part of the city as a kind unruly ceremonial centre.
The second chapter of Dublin: A Writer’s City explores what, for many people, is the lasting image of Dublin literary culture: the world of the Dublin literary pubs in the middle decades of the twentieth century. This was a very public literary culture, in which novelists, poets, and playwrights were familiar figures on Dublin streets, and engaged in lively newspaper debates. The principal players here are Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, and Flann O’Brien, who were regulars in pubs such as McDaid’s. Many of the writers of this era also lived in what has subsequently become known as ‘Baggotonia’, an area around Baggot Street Bridge in which Georgian and Victorian houses had been broken up into affordable flats. Writers living in this area included Thomas Kinsella, Leland Bardwell, John Banville, and John Montague; it also was home to the Pike Theatre, where Beckett’s Waiting for Godot had its Irish premiere. The chapter ends with a reflection on the impact of changing property values in this area, today one of the most expensive parts of the city, and hence one in which few writers now live.
Sometimes, a geographical feature can stamp itself on the character of a place. In the case of the south coast of Dublin, the expanse of sea and sky has led more than one writer to ask – in more than one way – “am I walking into eternity on Sandymount Strand?” (as Joyce’s character Stephen Dedalus puts it in Ulysses). It was here that the Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney lived and wrote for many years, just down the coast from the Martello tower that features in Ulysses. A little further along the coast again is the pier at Dún Laoghaire, associated with a pivotal passage in Samuel Beckett’s work. Even as it looks outwards, however, Dublin’s south coast has a long association with wealth and privilege, from the secluded villas of the eighteenth century to the property boom of the early twenty-first century. This is reflected in work extending from Maria Edgeworth’s The Absentee to contemporary fiction by Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, and the satire of Paul Howard, and the number of contemporary Dublin crime novels associated with the area.
Within a span of less than five years, Mexican presses published two historical novels based on the Dongo massacre and its rapid resolution by the viceregal judiciary. The first of these was José de Cuéllar’s 1869 El Pecado del Siglo: Novela Histórica, Época de Revillagigedo, published by the Tipográfica del Colegio Polimático in San Luis Potosí. Only four years later, the first volume of a book called Los Asesinos de Dongo: Novela Histórica appeared in Mexico City, written by Manuel Filomeno Rodríguez. In 1876, the same publisher, Barbedillo and Company, published volume two of Los Asesinos de Dongo. Both authors chose to write these historical novels to take part in an important nationalist and didactic literary trend in Mexico’s Restored Republic. Influenced by the politician, intellectual, journalist and writer Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, novelists like Rodríguez and Cuéllar felt inspired to help Mexicans understand their own history through fictional characters.
Dublin’s origins as a city are Viking, and the buried remains of this era can be found near the site of Christchurch Cathedral, where the now covered-over River Poddle ran down to the Liffey. It was here that the original medieval city grew up around the administrative centre of Dublin Castle, adjacent to which the city’s first theatres in the seventeenth century – notably Smock Alley – would be built. This chapter takes as its keynote the idea of a buried past making itself felt in the present in literature. This extends from contemporary crime fiction by Tanya French and classic nineteenth-century gothic fiction by Sheridan Le Fanu, to poetry and theatre about the Northern Ireland conflict by Seamus Heaney and Brian Friel that finds a metaphor in the Viking past. This part of the city is also dominated by the figure of Jonathan Swift, whose response to the poverty he saw around him is echoed in later writers. It is also the part of the city most closely associated with the poet James Clarence Mangan, who in turn haunts James Joyce’s classic short story, ‘The Dead’, which is set in this part of the city.
If the dominant image of the writers’ culture of Dublin has been shaped by the male-dominated literary pubs of the mid-twentieth century, this image eclipses another side of Dublin literary life at the time. Situated in the heart of Baggotonia, off the Grand Canal, was the childhood home of Elizabeth Bowen. This chapter starts with Bowen’s memories of the area in the early 1900s, then takes her book on the Shelbourne Hotel as a base from which to explore other writers who lived in the area, including Lady Morgan in the nineteenth century, George Moore in the early twentieth century, and others such as Mary Lavin, who lived nearby and frequently wrote in the National Library. The chapter also looks that the adjacent St. Stephen’s Green, which produced its own eighteenth-century literary culture, and later features in one of the key moments in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. What emerges from a consideration of the writers who, over the centuries, have lived and written near one of the city’s main parks, is a sense of the many ways in which a writer can be a public figure.
If James Joyce’s final novel, Finnegans Wake, can be said to be set anywhere, it is in a pub in Chapelizod, in the west of Dublin along the River Liffey, beside the Phoenix Park, which marks the city’s historical western boundary. This had already been the location for gothic fiction by Sheridan Le Fanu in the nineteenth century, and the poet Thomas Kinsella would often return in his writing to the area around the Park, and nearby Inchicore, where he grew up. However, before any of these writers, the Phoenix Park itself developed a literature of its own in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and was a place for promenading and for duelling. Today, the contrast between past and present is sharper in this part of the city than perhaps anywhere else. With the rapid geographical spread of Dublin since the middle of the twentieth century, new suburbs have spread far beyond the original western bounds of the city, extending into neighbouring counties. It is here that the challenge of finding literary forms adequate to the life of its citizens is felt most strongly in a city that has long defined itself as a writer’s city.
The words of its writers are part of the texture of Dublin, an invisible counterpart to the bricks and pavement we see around us. Beyond the ever-present footsteps of James Joyce's characters, Leopold Bloom or Stephen Dedalus, around the city centre, an ordinary-looking residential street overlooking Dublin Bay, for instance, presents the house where Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney lived for many years; a few blocks away is the house where another Nobel Laureate, W. B. Yeats, was born. Just down the coast is the pier linked to yet another, Samuel Beckett, from which we can see the Martello Tower that is the setting for the opening chapter of Ulysses. But these are only a few. Step-by-step, Dublin: A Writer's City unfolds a book-lover's map of this unique city, inviting us to experience what it means to live in a great city of literature. The book is heavily illustrated, and features custom maps.
Despite our preconceptions, Romantic writers, artists, and philosophers did not think of honor as an archaic or regressive concept, but as a contemporary, even progressive value that operated as a counterpoint to freedom, a well-known preoccupation of the period's literature. Focusing on texts by William Godwin, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Mary Prince, and Mary Seacole, this book argues that the revitalization of honor in the first half of the nineteenth century signalled a crisis in the emerging liberal order, one with which we still wrestle today: how can political subjects demand real, materialist forms of dignity in a system dedicated to an abstract, and often impoverished, idea of 'liberty'? Honor, Romanticism, and the Hidden Value of Modernity presents both a theory and a history of this question in the media of the Black Atlantic, the Jacobin novel, the landscape poem, and the “financial” romance.
This chapter argues that generic distinctions between the essay and the novel have historically been difficult to preserve, with many of the supposedly identifying features of each genre applying in practice to the other. The author surveys work by writers including Milan Kundera, Robert Musil, Zadie Smith, and Virginia Woolf.
This Element examines the eighteenth-century novel's contributions to empirical knowledge. Realism has been the conventional framework for treating this subject within literary studies. This Element identifies the limitations of the realism framework for addressing the question of knowledge in the eighteenth-century novel. Moving beyond the familiar focus in the study of novelistic realism on problems of perception and representation, this Element focuses instead on how the eighteenth-century novel staged problems of inductive reasoning. It argues that we should understand the novel's contributions to empirical knowledge primarily in terms of what the novel offered as training ground for methods of reasoning, rather than what it offered in terms of formal innovations for representing knowledge. We learn from such a shift that the eighteenth-century novel was not a failed experiment in realism, or in representing things as they are, but a valuable system for reasoning and thought experiment.