Martin Ferguson Smith

Essay 1 presents two recently discovered portraits by Roger Fry. One is an unsigned drawing of an unnamed woman. The identity of the artist is certain, as is that of the sitter. Comparison with other images proves that she is Roger’s wife, the artist Helen Coombe. The drawing was made on their wedding day in 1896. The occasion is indicated by her dress and jewellery and clinched by a passionately loving note in her handwriting. The other portrait, executed in pencil and gouache on paper, is of Vanessa Bell. Roger and Vanessa had fallen in love on a visit to Turkey in the spring of 1911, and his “new” portrait of her is to be dated 1911–1912, when their affair was going strong, his style was much influenced by Matisse, and he had recently put on the first of his two post-impressionist exhibitions in London. So the second portrait, like the first, belongs to a very important time of his life.

in In and out of Bloomsbury
An introduction

In this opening chapter, we set the scene for the book by challenging the almost hegemonic view that the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is, in the words of President Clinton, a ‘work of genius’ that should be adopted as a model for other societies emerging from conflict. We begin by suggesting that we need to regard the Northern Irish ‘peace process’ in plural terms and, in particular, to acknowledge the often crucial ‘vernacular’ forms of peace-building’ that go on at community level. We then move to suggest that the reliance of the GFA on certain ‘liberal’ and ‘realist’ readings of international relations has ensured that it has three principal flaws. First, the celebrated peace deal is premised on a familiar but arbitrary temporal distinction between ‘war’ and ‘peace’ which renders it unable to deal with the complex afterlives of the Troubles. Second, the GFA rests on an implicit hierarchy of victims which ensures it cannot acknowledge certain ever more prevalent forms of violence in Northern Irish society. Finally, the political settlement in Northern Ireland assumes a political and cultural binary – that between ‘unionists’ and ‘nationalists’ – which no longer adequately describes the complexities of identity in the region. Having set out this critique, we conclude that the Northern Irish peace process has been rather less than the success that many influential global figures would have us believe.

in Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
Lost futures and new horizons in the ‘long peace’

The Good Friday Agreement is widely celebrated as a political success story, one that has brought peace to a region previously synonymous across the globe with political violence. The truth, as ever, is rather more complicated than that. In many respects, the era of the peace process has seen Northern Irish society change almost beyond recognition. Those incidents of politically motivated violence that were once commonplace have become thankfully rare, and a new generation has emerged whose identities and interests are rather more fluid and cosmopolitan than those of their parents. In many other regards, however, Northern Ireland continues to operate in the long shadow of its own turbulent recent past. Those who were victims of violence, as well as those who were its agents, have often been consigned to the margins of a society clearly still struggling to cope with the traumas of the Troubles. Furthermore, the transition to ‘peace’ has revealed the existence of new, and not so new, forms of violence in Northern Irish society, not least those directed towards women, ethnic minorities and the poor. In Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday, we set out to capture the complex, and often contradictory, realities that have emerged more than two decades on from the region’s vaunted peace deal. Across nine original essays, the book provides a critical and comprehensive reading of a society that often appears to have left its violent past behind but at the same time remains subject to its gravitational pull.

Social class in an age of boom and bust

In the early stages of the peace process, a series of global players insisted that the permanent end of the conflict would lead to the revival of Northern Ireland’s long ailing economy. That promised ‘peace dividend’ has, however, never materialised. Although the Good Friday Agreement was signed during a period of global economic expansion, the advent of peace would fail to change Northern Ireland’s status as one of the UK regions where poverty and worklessness are most pronounced. In spite of their supposed ideological differences, both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) would adhere to neoliberal strategies that would merely compound the disadvantage of those communities that had suffered most during the Troubles. The immiseration of working-class districts would be heightened further with the introduction of the Welfare Reform Act in Northern Ireland. As we document in detail, the controversial changes to the social security system have led to even more glaring levels of poverty, indexed most graphically in the proliferation of food banks in the region. We conclude by suggesting that while the collusion of Sinn Féin and the DUP in the introduction of the new welfare regime has created the conditions of the possibility of a more leftist politics, historical experience counsels caution about the potential of such alternative voices.

in Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
Author: Michael Kalisch

This book explores how the contemporary American novel has revived a long literary and political tradition of imagining male friendship as interlinked with the promises and paradoxes of democracy in the United States. In the last decades of the twentieth century, not only novelists but philosophers, critical theorists, and sociologists rediscovered the concept of friendship as a means of scrutinising bonds of national identity. This book reveals how friendship, long exiled from serious political philosophy, returned as a crucial term in late twentieth-century communitarian debates about citizenship, while, at the same time, becoming integral to continental philosophy’s exploration of the roots of democracy, and, in a different guise, to histories of sexuality. Moving innovatively between these disciplines, this important study brings into dialogue the work of authors rarely discussed together – including Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Dinaw Mengestu, and Teju Cole – and advances a compelling new account of the political and intellectual fabric of the contemporary American novel.

Women and the promise of peace in the ‘new’ Northern Ireland

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) marked itself out as significant for its commitment to ‘the right of women to full and equal participation in political life’. Moreover, some also lauded the relatively high levels of visibility and participation of women within the wider peace process. Although dominant, state-centric forms of conflict transition claim to be universally beneficial, evidence from the so-called ‘post-conflict’ period around the world demonstrates a continuity of violence and inequality for women, with many also facing new forms of violent practices. As a society emerging from protracted armed conflict, Northern Ireland is no exception. This chapter explores the position of women in Northern Ireland today, and by doing so seeks to problematise the ‘post-conflict’ narrative by gendering peace and security. The diverse issues explored here – from women’s political representation to gender-based violence and abortion – are linked and embedded within a structural and cultural gender order which invariably privileges masculinity and male power. The chapter finds that despite the widespread optimism among many feminists and women, what emerged in the place of the promised ‘equalities and inclusions’ agenda of the GFA is in fact an era of ‘neo-patriarchy’. While the GFA did undoubtedly provide the potential for a new era of greater equality between the sexes, more than twenty years on, Northern Irish society exhibits all the trademarks and insidious characteristics of a patriarchal society that has yet to undergo a genuine transformation in gender relations.

in Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
Abstract only
Racist violence and armed resistance in the early twentieth-century U.S.–Mexico borderlands

A savage song examines the multiple narratives of race, manhood, and nation to emanate from practices of anti-black and anti-Mexican terror in the early twentieth century, tracing within them the broader reverberations of slavery, settler colonialism, and U.S. imperialism. It considers instances of violence enacted by white citizens and agents of the state, as well as instances in which Mexican and black men respectively took up armed resistance to massacre. Drawing upon mainstream and radical print media from the United States and Mexico, cultural texts, government documents, and archival materials, the book asks how these moments of killing and dying were understood by a range of actors, under what historical conditions they unfolded, and how they came to be infused with raced, gendered, and historical meaning. Notions of masculine power were central to explanations that sought to rationalize or celebrate racial violence and the order it enforced, as well as those which sought to imagine new worlds. In U.S. cultural and political discourses, the racial degeneracy of black and Mexican men was delineated not only in the acts of savagery they supposedly committed or threatened to commit, but also in the profuse, public, and abject manner in which they died. Mexicans and African Americans challenging U.S. violence deployed their own discourses of death and resistance that both subverted and rearticulated dominant gendered logic.

Martin Ferguson Smith

The essay is the first detailed study of Richard Williams Reynolds (1867–1947). It reveals that, although born in Liverpool, he was the illegitimate son of Brigadier-General Daniel Harris Reynolds of Arkansas by Annie Franklin, a British settler who had been widowed just before the Civil War, in which her lover fought for the Confederate Army. Educated at King Edward’s School (KES), Birmingham, and Balliol College, Oxford, Richard spent the 1890s in London, where he trained for the Bar and did some journalism. His membership of the Fabian Society brought him into close friendship with the writer Edith Nesbit. In 1900 he joined the staff of KES. His most famous pupil was J. R. R. Tolkien. In 1910 he married the novelist Dorothea Deakin, Nesbit’s niece, with whom he had three daughters. In 1922 he retired from KES. He and his family moved to Capri, where they associated with Axel Munthe and other writers and artists. But Dorothea died in 1924, and in 1935–1936 Richard suffered further losses on a Greek-tragic scale – the deaths of his daughters Diana and Pamela, and of the second wife whom he had just married. Pamela, a promising poet, perished in a fall down a cliff.

in In and out of Bloomsbury
Martin Ferguson Smith

After being home-educated until she was fifteen and a half, Dorothy Leigh Sayers was sent to a boarding school by her parents in January 1909. They chose the Godolphin School, Salisbury. The essay presents some of the results of detailed research into Dorothy L. Sayers’s time at school. The main sources exploited are three: the letters, many of them unpublished, which she wrote while at the Godolphin; The Godolphin School Magazine; and the handwritten School Diary, with many items pasted in. Some use is also made of Dorothy’s unfinished novel Cat O’Mary, which is partly autobiographical, but not always factually reliable. As well as contributing much to school life, as a brilliant modern linguist and with her outstanding talents in music and drama, Dorothy benefited greatly from the high standard of education she received, from the civilised and stimulating atmosphere fostered by the outstanding headmistress, Mary Alice Douglas, and from the varied contacts she had with her fellow-pupils as well as with her teachers. But she also suffered setbacks, notably when she developed pneumonia after a bout of measles and nearly died, and when she left school suddenly before the end of what was planned to be her penultimate term.

in In and out of Bloomsbury
Martin Ferguson Smith

The first discussion concerns Virginia Woolf’s attempted suicide in September 1913 and her recuperation from the attack of mental illness that provoked it. The main focus is on the interest and advice of Roger Fry, whose wife, Helen Coombe, had a long history of mental illness which invites comparison and contrast with that of Virginia. When Virginia was convalescing, and a new nurse was required for her, Roger approached the medical superintendent of the hospital in which Helen was a patient. The letters exchanged between the two are made known for the first time. The superintendent was a keen amateur artist, and Roger discussed with him the effect of colour on the mind and its possible therapeutic benefits in cases of mental illness. The second discussion is a postscript to the discussion, in the preceding essay, of the photographs taken by the Woolfs in Greece. It is about Maggie Humm’s claim that the error of misidentifying the Temple of Olympian Zeus as a building on the Acropolis originated with Virginia herself and is of psychobiographical significance. It is demonstrated that Humm’s claim is incorrect, and that the edifice she seeks to build on this fallacious foundation is unsound.

in In and out of Bloomsbury