Bram Stoker‘s ‘Carpet of Death’ and Ireland‘s Horrible Beauty
This article examines Irish bogland as Gothic landscapes in Bram Stoker‘s The Snake‘s Pass (1890). Conjoining the constituent elements of the Irish bog with the EcoGothic as a literary and cultural mode, the ‘Bog Gothic’ illustrates bogland as untamed wasteland that resists incorporation into modernity and colonialism. This article argues that investigating bogland in The Snakes Pass will draw attention to the ways in which Irish bogs are situated precariously among issues of national identity, colonial consciousness and environmental history, which ultimately results in the marginalisation and degradation of these ubiquitous and emblematic landscapes of Ireland.
Derek Gladwin investigates how Collins, who is considered one of the most articulate contemporary documentary film-makers in Ireland, depicts Robinson as a mediator between landscape and culture through his own mapping enterprise. Gladwin suggests that Collins and Robinson share a similar desire in their own forms of documentation to examine the subject of Connemara in order to create a place-based art form that magnifies the landscape while reducing the primacy of the ‘maker’ in the process. Gladwin argues that Collins’s film Tim Robinson: Connemara is not only a documentary about the cultural imagination associated with Robinson’s production of map-making and topographic writing, but also about his process of capturing the essence of place, a process that comes back full circle to Collins primary aim in the documentary.
Unfolding Irish landscapes offers a comprehensive and sustained study of the work of cartographer, landscape writer and visual artist Tim Robinson. The visual texts and multi-genre essays included in this book, from leading international scholars in Irish Studies, geography, ecology, environmental humanities, literature and visual culture, explore Robinson’s writing, map-making and art. Robinson’s work continues to garner significant attention not only in Ireland, but also in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America, particularly with the recent celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his monumental Stones of Aran: pilgrimage. Robert Macfarlane has described Robinson’s work in Ireland as ‘one of the most sustained, intensive and imaginative studies of a landscape that has ever been carried out’. It is difficult to separate Robinson the figure from his work and the places he surveys in Ireland – they are intertextual and interconnected. This volume explores some of these characteristics for both general and expert readers alike. As individual studies, the essays in this collection demonstrate disciplinary expertise. As parts of a cohesive project, they form a collective overview of the imaginative sensibility and artistic dexterity of Robinson’s cultural and geographical achievements in Ireland. By navigating Robinson’s method of ambulation through his prose and visual creations, this book examines topics ranging from the politics of cartography and map-making as visual art forms to the cultural and environmental dimensions of writing about landscapes.
Over the years, Robinson’s writings have incisively documented what he calls the ‘ABC of earth wonders’ – Aran Islands, Burren, and Connemara. During this process Robinson has addressed the historical and geographical tensions that suffuse the Irish western landscape. However, attempting to place any sort of label on Robinson presents the largest challenge in a collection of essays devoted to his topographical writings and mapmaking. The aim, then, is not to define Robinson in some absolute binding way but, rather, to unfold the intricacies of the places that define his work and in so doing reveal his substantial influence on contemporary Irish culture. Christine Cusick and Derek Gladwin begin by offering an overview of Robinson’s work and demonstrate the need for such a collection since critical attention on Robinson’s work has gained momentum in the last several years. They then more closely investigate Robinson in two broad sections: one about his cartography and writing, and the other about the ways in which the writers in this collection engage with his work.