Parallel Visions, Confluent Worlds
The Republic of Ireland left the British Commonwealth in 1949. It was traditionally overlooked by developing trends of Commonwealth literary studies from the 1960s, which tended to examine the cultural production of countries still under Commonwealth rule. From the late 1980s onwards, however, scholars of Irish literature and indeed across postcolonial studies have examined Ireland’s unique and comparative literary, historical, cultural and geographical features in relation to the contexts of broader postcolonial debates. To date, nonetheless, there has yet to be a dedicated comparative study of how the specific genre of the Irish novel developed throughout the twentieth century as a means of giving imaginative expression to particular decolonizing processes in Ireland as it disengaged from the dominant discourses of British colonial rule.
Ireland’s history is clearly different from that of the former colonies of the British West Indies. Richard McGuire takes this point into account, and in Parallel Visions, Confluent Worlds he investigates how extensively the Irish novel, particularly from the 1920s, expresses forms and themes recognized by many scholars and critics to be key postcolonial concerns in West Indian novels of the same period. The British West Indies serves as a strong suitable comparative case for examination, since it has such an established wealth of study in relation to its postcolonial dimensions. This book compares five pairings of Irish and Caribbean texts that explore issues such as evolving representations of “native” peoples, late-colonial anxiety, the subversive power of women in a patriarchal-imperialist society, migration and the experience of growing up amid anti-colonial violence.
RICHARD McGUIRE is Associate Lecturer, School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom.