Vol 28, No 2 (2022)

Published December 9, 2022

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Editor's Notes

Editor’s Notes

Editor’s Notes

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Articles

Metaleptic Confessions: The Problematization of Fictional Truth in Paul Auster’s Invisible

This essay focuses on Paul Auster’s novel, Invisible (2009), aiming to explore the text’s intricate metafictional dimensions, especially the deployment of metalepsis as the main organizing principle of its narrative structure. The author argues that the novel employs a subtle metaleptic narrative structure, which moves beyond the classical postmodernist phase of textual experimentation, and serves as a means of raising questions of ethical and existential relevance. Metalepsis is construed in the paper as a trope of transgression, whereby its epistemological and ontological functions are regarded as a means to an end, which is the problematization of the interrelation between narrative structure and ethical agency. The main contention of the article is that the novel’s surreptitiously deployed metaleptic structure results in the ontological destabilization of the narrative, which in turn undermines the epistemic function (truth-telling) of the act of confession, so its ethical purpose (atonement, absolution) remains unfulfilled. (PCS)

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“He / looks into / his own eyes”: Thom Gunn’s Ekphrastic Poems

Thom Gunn’s oeuvre spanned more than four decades, during which he kept writing ekphrastic poems. The way words and images relate to each other in them, however, changed gradually and considerably. While his early work is characterized by the dominance of the verbal over the visual, his later poems from the 1970s and 80s question the dominance of language and attribute destructive power to the image. Word and image become reconciled in Gunn’s last two collections from the 1990s and 2000s, respectively. The gradual change in Gunn’s ekphrastic work corresponds to the development of his identity as a gay man; this identity, full-blown at the end of his career, is reflected in his mature treatment of images. (IOH)

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Screen Writing the Border: Eugene McCabe, RTÉ, and the Victims Trilogy

This essay explores the images and settings of the border narratives in Eugene McCabe’s television screenplays for his Victims trilogy, a three-part series broadcast by RTÉ in 1976. The series was based on McCabe’s own short stories, “Cancer,” “Heritage,” and “Victims”—which became known as the “Fermanagh trilogy”—written separately in the 1970s but published collectively as Christ in the Fields (1993). The essay argues that living on and writing out of his borderlands farm, near Clones, Co. Monaghan, McCabe experienced a condition that I term “borderliness,” which is structured into his writing about this area and the region more widely. I identify this condition by the presence of four thematic tropes that echo and interlace with each other across his screenplays. Making use of archival research in RTÉ, the essay analyzes draft script and screen realization, and supporting production material, focusing on the central, pivotal episode, Heritage, before it reaches its conclusion by drawing on adaptation theory and the conceit of the palimpsest to compare the screenplay and prose fiction versions. (LP)

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Dramaturgical Roles of Present and Past Teenage Characters in Post-Agreement Northern Irish Drama

The Good Friday Agreement (1998) has set in motion significant changes in Northern Ireland, generating new conditions which, however, also brought numerous problems to the surface on various levels of society. Sociologists have called attention to how intensely the persistent afterlife of sectarian hostilities affect especially teenagers who are often unable to see their goals clearly. Several contemporary Northern Irish playwrights have relied on young characters to pinpoint timely and pressing social and cultural issues as well as to throw light on the precarity of the post-Troubles environment. This essay discusses three plays from different decades of the post-Agreement period: Gary Mitchell’s Trust (1999), Lucy Caldwell’s Leaves (2007), and Owen McCafferty’s Quietly (2012). Their respective dramaturgies showcase the long-lasting influence of the historical burden of the Northern Irish conflict on young peoples’ subjectivities as well as demonstrate how middle-aged characters are still haunted by memories of the psychic wounds they suffered during the most formative years of their lives. Through their underage protagonists, each playwright suggests that members of this generation might not be able to further strengthen the peace they have formally inherited. (MK)

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Suspended Lives: Lucy Caldwell’s Three Sisters in Post-Agreement Belfast

Lucy Caldwell’s 2016 adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters relocates the play into Belfast in the 1990s. This paper examines Caldwell’s adaptation in the context of Irish and Northern Irish rewritings of Chekhov’s dramatic works, paying attention to the motives behind appropriating the Russian works for Irish audiences. Inspired by the perceived affinity between the two seemingly distant cultures, Irish authors have tended to adapt Chekhov (and other Russian classics) to reflect on their own social, cultural, and political environment, often with the aim of shaping the cultural-political landscape of their present. Similarly to earlier Chekhov adaptations, Caldwell’s play engages not only with the original Russian work, but, most importantly, with the cultural-political context of its setting—the five hopeful years preceding the Belfast Agreement (1998), as well as the post-Agreement context of its writing. The play allows its audience in 2016 a complex, retrospective, re-evaluative view of the achievements of the peace process from the vantage point of the early twenty-first century. (ZSCS)

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Introduction

Introduction to the Special Thematic Block:

Undesirables in the Last Best West? - Central and Eastern European Immigration to Canada

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The Success of Jewish Agricultural Colonies in Western Canada

This article assesses the history of Jewish agricultural settlements created in Western Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The first settlements were founded following the 1881 Russian pogroms, at which time Canada’s Jewish community tried to resettle refugees in Western Canada. The result was the establishment of over a dozen farming colonies at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By examining the documentation produced by the colonists and the organizations that facilitated their settlement, it is possible to reconstruct the lives of the colonists in each community. This study investigates documents available for twelve different communities that span the Prairies. Settlers report several impediments to their success, including inexperience, poor soil, natural disaster, anti-Semitism, poor administration, and financial hardship. However, the decisive factor which brought an end to the colonies was upward social mobility. They were victims of their own success, unable to maintain their numbers as younger generations moved away, and parents joined them when they retired. The analysis of the farm colonies reveals the causes of their decline and provides grounds for re-evaluating their legacy. (EW)

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The Independent Greek Church in Canada, 1903–1912: Middle Ground on the Canadian Prairies between Ukrainian Immigrants and Presbyterianism

The Independent Greek Church in Canada, 1903–1912, was a middle ground between The Presbyterian Church in Canada, which desired to bring the growing Ukraine diaspora into the Presbyterian fold, and the Ukrainian immigrant intelligentsia, who imagined an independent, Protestant, and culturally and linguistically Ukrainian church. Using the work of Richard White on middle ground and the work of Lamin Sanneh on non-dominant cultures’ agency in missionary contexts, the paper offers a new interpretation of the Independent Greek Church in Canada, an interpretation that valorizes the agency of the Ukrainian participants in the denomination. Yet, as a middle ground, the denomination was too unstable to survive long. The growing uniformity of Canadian Presbyterianism ended this unexpected pairing on the Canadian Prairies. (PB)

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Shaping Destinies: Women and the Hungarian Refugee Movement to Canada (1956–1958)

By December 1958, Canada had admitted almost 38,000 Hungarian refugees, forced to flee their country after Soviet forces crushed the October 1956 uprising. A rich historiography has examined this migration from a range of perspectives, but an analysis of women’s actions and attitudes represents an uncharted approach. Archival research reveals that Canadian women expressed opinions and took on a variety of roles related to the refugee movement. Examining those opinions and roles not only offers a novel perspective on Canada’s response to the refugee crisis, but it also provides insights into the evolving roles of women in Canadian society. The weight of intersectionality often muted the voices of women of Hungarian origin, both Canadians and refugees. Yet, refugee women were accorded a symbolic power that played its own role in the movement, and they found ways to exercise their agency to achieve their desired admission and settlement outcomes. (ST)

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Immigrant Memories of Healing: Textual and Pictorial Images in Erika Gottlieb’s Becoming My Mother’s Daughter

Erika Gottlieb’s narrative is a transgenerational family memoir, a search for identity, and also the testimony of the protagonist Eva Steinbach, the thinly disguised authorial self, a child survivor of the Holocaust in Hungary, which provides a larger historical perspective for the personal narrative written in Canada. The satisfactory completion of the tasks involved in these three strands of Gottlieb’s life writing depends on how successfully memories can be preserved without allowing them to paralyze the remembering subject. Since these three themes are inseparable from each other, they can only result in self-understanding and healing for the author/protagonist if they evolve together. At the same time, Gottlieb’s narrative is intricately linked to her artwork, which calls for an intermedial discussion of the book to reveal how the graphic images further enhance the protagonist’s struggle to comprehend herself. While the multi-layered text is constructed in a non-linear structure, the sketches and paintings incorporated in it are employed to fulfill various functions. They serve both as illustrations of characters and locations at times, while on other occasions they are made to serve as structural devices. When describing or representing existing artwork, the text also turns into ekphrastic writing at certain points, thus multiplying the interpretative possibilities opened up and the aesthetic impressions created. (MP)

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“Outsider”: The Influence of Migration Experience on the Life and Work of Hungarian-Canadian Songwriter B.B. Gábor

This paper examines the life and work of Gábor Hegedűs, whose family escaped from the Russian invasion of Hungary in 1956, and settled in Toronto, Canada. Under the stage name B.B. Gábor, he wrote and released several successful songs and albums, many of which drew on his experience as a refugee, and were broadcast around the world, as well as in Canada. His most popular songs were satiric commentaries on culture and politics, comparing life in the USSR and in Canada. These were the themes that drew the most attention from audiences and critics, and earned them international airplay, most notably on Radio Free Europe. His difficulties coping with life as a refugee and as an immigrant to Canada resulted in personal tragedy, yet his ability to express these difficulties in his songs left a lasting legacy in both Canada and his native Hungary. (VK; KK; NBN)

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Book reviews

A Novel Inquiry into a Strategic Aspect of Irish Women’s Theatre across a Century

Book review:

Hill, Shonagh. Women and Embodied Mythmaking in Irish Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019. 257 pages. ISBN 978-1-108-48533-3. Hb. ₤75.

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All the World’s a Monster

Book review:

Nirta, Caterina and Andrea Pavoni, eds. Monstrous Ontologies: Politics Ethics Materiality. Series in Philosophy. Wilmington: Vernon Press, 2022. xxxiv + 220 pages. ISBN 978-1-64889-307-0. Pbk. $51.00.

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O joy, O joy, the Hobby-Horse is Remembered

Book review:

Pikli, Natália. Shakespeare’s Hobby-Horse and Early Modern Popular Culture. New York: Routledge, 2021. 286 pages. ISBN 9780367514150. Hb. $160.00

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Shakespeare’s Literary Architecture in King Lear

Book review:

Mudriczki, Judit. Shakespeare’s Art of Poesy in King Lear: An Emblematic Mirror of Governance on the Jacobean Stage. Budapest–Párizs: L’Harmattan, 2020. 126 pages. ISBN 978-2-343-20808-4. Pbk. 1990 HUF.

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Iterations of Silence

Book review:

Fadem, Maureen E. Ruprecht. Silence and Articulacy in the Poetry of Medbh McGuckian. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2019. 310 pages. ISBN 978-1-7936-0707-2. E-book. $115.

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Down to Earth, Up for Democracy

Book review:

Gregory, Elizabeth. Apparition of Splendor: Marianne Moore Performing Democracy through Celebrity, 1952–1970. Newark: U of Delaware P, 2021. 264 pages. ISBN 9781644531969. Hb. $34.95.

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