In Search of Lost History: Embodied Memory and the Material Past in Post-millennial Irish Fiction

  • Maria Beville
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


Through a focus on the new materialist idea of embodied memory, this chapter investigates the manner in which the post-linguistic turn toward materiality in contemporary philosophy has come to be reflected in post-millennial Irish fiction. The discussion of memory, in particular, is engaged through re-readings of texts by Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault as proponents of the concept that history and identity are ‘written on the body’ as products of action as well as of language. Analysing the writing of Anne Enright and The Gathering, in particular, the chapter discusses an observed move toward materiality in Irish fiction, and with this move, efforts to get past the ‘post-’ prefix which has defined so much late twentieth-century thought and literature.

Works Cited

  1. Banville, John. (2005). The Sea (London: Picador).Google Scholar
  2. Barad, Karen. (2003). ‘Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter’, Signs 28 (3), p. 801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bender, Barbara. (1993). Landscape, Politics, and Perspectives (Berg: University of Michigan).Google Scholar
  4. Booth, Wayne C. (1983). The Rhetoric of Fiction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bracken, Claire, and Susan Cahill (eds.). (2011). Anne Enright (Dublin: Irish Academic Press).Google Scholar
  6. Braidotti, Rosi. (2000). ‘Teratologies’, in I. Buchanan and C. Colebrook (eds.), Deleuze and Feminist Theory (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), pp. 156–72.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, Bill. (2001). ‘Thing Theory’, Critical Inquiry 28 (1), pp. 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, Bill. (2002). ‘“The Thing About Things”: The Art of Decoration in the Work of Henry James’, The Henry James Review 23 (3), pp. 222–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cahill, Susan. (2011). Irish Literature in the Celtic Tiger Years 1990–2008: Gender, Bodies, Memory (London: Continuum).Google Scholar
  10. Deleuze, Gilles. (1994). Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
  11. Enright, Anne. (2007). The Gathering (London: Vintage).Google Scholar
  12. Ewins, Kristin. (2011). ‘“History Is Only Biological”: History, Bodies and National Identity in The Gathering and “Switzerland”’, in Claire Bracken and Susan Cahill (eds.), Anne Enright (Dublin: Irish Academic Press), pp. 127–44.Google Scholar
  13. Foucault, Michel. (1970). The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books).Google Scholar
  14. Heaney, Seamus. (1999). Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966–1996 (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux).Google Scholar
  15. Kenny, John. (2009). John Banville (Dublin: Irish Academic Press).Google Scholar
  16. Olsen, Bjornar. (2003). ‘Material Culture After Text: Re-membering Things’, Norwegian Archaeological Review 36 (2), pp. 87–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Scarry, Elaine. (1988). Literature and the Body: Essays on Populations and Persons (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
  18. Schwall, Hedwig. (2007). ‘Anne Enright, The Gathering’, Irish University Review 37 (2), pp. 594–98.Google Scholar
  19. Žižek, Slavoj. (2007). ‘Deleuze’s Platonism: Ideal as Real’,, accessed 29 Nov 2017.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Beville
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Studies in OthernessAarhusDenmark

Personalised recommendations