Year

2005

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Faculty of Arts

Abstract

The writings of Tomas O'Crohan in the early twentieth century were celebrated upon publication as icons of Irishness and the voice of the mysterious Gaeltacht expressing itself at last and just in time. Appearing at a sensitive time in Irish history, the reading of these texts as relics of an heroic Irish past nourished hopes of a brave Irish future. Their English translations, though received no less enthusiastically, have often been dismissed as imperfect and undesirable conduits to the author. Informed by the basic theme of dialogue, this thesis examines the politics of culture that brought the Islandman, man and book, into being, and that have surrounded the texts since they first appeared. It considers both the autobiography itself and the translation in terms of cultural process as well as product. It identifies the desire to control the reading of the texts as a legacy of the Gaelic League desire to wall the Irish culture in and examines it from several points of view - most notably from the points of view of translation theory, autobiography theory and, to a lesser extent, post-colonial theory. These modes of enquiry show that the sites of constraint imposed upon the texts reflect a cultural anxiety about what is revealed about this community that was made to represent Ireland. They demonstrate that the conventional reading of the texts, which privileges Tom's' fisherman identity, has veiled the writer protagonist inscribed in the texts, subordinating his identity as a writer to his identity as a peasant. The thesis contests the reading of Tom's' work as 'representative' and 'authentic' with a recognition of the personal aspects of the individual self that Tom's inscribed in his work.

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