The Zigzag Trajectory Through Time of Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic
This chapter addresses the ethical implications of TransAtlantic’s multiperspectivity and of the novel’s multidirectional, yet convergent, structure. Colum McCann’s oceanic storyworld is focalized through both male historical figures from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and generations of fictional female figures who use or are impacted by the trade route. Through the telling of fictional Hannah Carson’s overarching homodiegetic multigenerational story which has male historical figures encountering female fictional characters and vice versa, the work gestures towards a variegated whole comprised of all the aligned voices effectively assembled together. By combining narrative threads concerning slavery and Irish and African colonialism, TransAtlantic disputes the identity politics permeating accounts of communal trauma. The narrative friction between memoir and fictional testimony instead facilitates readerly engagement in historical debate.
KeywordsAbolition of slavery Irish independence Michael Rothberg Colum McCann TransAtlantic
- Bataille, Georges. 1995. “Concerning the Accounts Given by the Residents of Hiroshima.” In Trauma: Explorations in Memory, edited by Cathy Caruth, 221–35. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- Brown, Laura S. 1995. “Not Outside the Range: One Feminist Perspective on Psychic Trauma.” In Trauma: Explorations in Memory, edited by Cathy Caruth, 100–12. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- Butler, Judith. 2005. Giving An Account of Oneself. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
- Caruth, Cathy. 1995. “An Interview with Robert J. Lifton.” In Trauma: Explorations in Memory, edited by Cathy Caruth, 128–47. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 1996. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 2013. Literature in the Ashes of History. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- Cleary, Joe. 2007. Outrageous Fortune: Capital and Culture in Modern Ireland. Dublin: Field Day Publications.Google Scholar
- Flannery, Eóin. 2011. Colum McCann and the Aesthetics of Redemption. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Hartner, Marcus. 2014. “Multiperspectivity.” The Living Handbook of Narratology, University of Hamburg. www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/article/multiperspectivity. Accessed 7 December 2016.
- Krystal, Henry. 1995. “Trauma and Aging: A Thirty-Year Follow-Up.” In Trauma: Explorations in Memory, edited by Cathy Caruth, 76–99. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- Levinas, Emmanuel. 1969. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, translated by Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
- McCann, Colum. 2009a. “Interview with Nathan Englander.” http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/110437/let-the-great-world-spin-by-colum-mccann/. Accessed 7 December 2016.
- ———. 2009b. Let the Great World Spin. Toronto: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
- ———. 2013a. “Interview with Kevin Nance.” Chicago Tribune. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-31/features/ct-prj-0602-colum-mccann-20130531_1_printers-row-journal-transatlantic-new-genre. Accessed 7 December 2016.
- ———. 2013b. TransAtlantic. Toronto: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
- Obama, Barack. 2011. “Remarks by the President at Irish Celebration in Dublin, Ireland.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/23/remarks-president-irish-celebration-dublin-ireland. Accessed 7 December 2016.
- Phelan, James. 2005. Living to Tell About It: A Rhetoric and Ethics of Character Narration. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Rothberg, Michael. 2011. “From Gaza to Warsaw: Mapping Multidirectional Memory.” Criticism 53 (4): 523–48.Google Scholar
- Singer, Sandra. 2012. “The Slow Demise of Modernism, Aleatory Keepsakes, ’70s Trauma and Looking Through the Glass Darkly in Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin.” Image and Narrative 13 (4): 206–20. http://www.imageandnarrative.be/index.php/imagenarrative/article/view/281. Accessed 7 December 2016.