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A tipper full of skinned limbs: Fiction and the Northern Ireland Troubles

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Author(s): Jyrki Ruohomäki

Journal: J@rgonia
ISSN 1459-305X

Volume: 11;
Issue: 22;
Start page: 17;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Troubles | Northern Ireland | fiction | cultural memory | politics of memory

ABSTRACT
This article discusses the potential of a fictional story, a novel, to challenge political narratives in a divided society. I will analyse three novels set during the ”Troubles” (1960s-1998) in Northern Ireland, looking at the ways in which each novel navigates the narrow space between Northern Irish unionism and nationalism, the two dominant narratives in Northern Ireland.I will read the novels politically, interpreting them as rhetorical narratives holding the power to challenge commonplace assumptions. I will apply the ideas put forward by James Phelan concerning the inherent rhetorical nature of narrative in fiction. I will also present Ann Rigney’s concept of cultural memory as an analytical tool for analysing the way in which memory and history have been politicised and how the material analysed offers a critique of that politicisation. I will contextualise the novels in the political, cultural and historiographic debates and political transformations in Northern Ireland.The article concludes that the three novels all seek to challenge and question the political narratives of Northern Ireland profoundly. They engage in a rhetorical act through which commonplace assumptions about the political conflict in Northern Ireland, its premises and its solutions, are presented in a new and challenging way.
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