Writing the Nations: Welsh, Northern Irish, and Scottish Literature

Authors: Dix, H.R.

Editors: Eagleton, M. and Parker, E.

Volume: 10

Pages: 195-213

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Place of Publication: Basingstoke

ISBN: 978-1137294807

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-137-29481-4_14

This chapter analyzes how women writers in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland have responded to the challenge of developing distinctive female narrative voices in a literary canon that is overwhelmingly male. Dix argues that Welsh women writers have done this by developing literary techniques that resist an earlier impulse to compartmentalize different kinds of work: nationalist, ethnic, English-language, Welsh-language, and feminist. He suggests that female writers from Northern Ireland are similarly interested in resisting compartmentalization and that they achieve this though a writing practice that brings their work into conscious intertextual relation both with the work of their male and nationalist precursors and with contrasting strains in Irish history. Finally, Dix demonstrates that contemporary Scottish women writers respond to the challenge of how to develop female literary voices within a male-dominated canon by frequently and ironically portraying the roles of chance, luck or fate in their work and hence of exploring a comparable notion of self-determination and consciously taken decisions. In the last instance, the chapter’s emphasis on self-determination as opposed to fate or destiny reveals national identity itself to be based on elective affinity and supported by a literary imagination that has become transnational.

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