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Nicholas Taylor-Collins
in Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature
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Nicholas Taylor-Collins

This chapter focuses on Yeats’s engagement with the motif of land in both his drama and poetry, with a particular interest in the way he is concerned with what is on the land’s surface. Whilst previous studies have noted the influence of King Lear on Yeats’s thinking – and, in particular, Lear’s concern with linear genealogy and who will inherit his territory – that comparison is limited in its usefulness. Instead, through a thorough examination of Yeats’s thinking about surfaces, this interest in Coole House – Lady Gregory’s ancestral home that Yeats hopes will remain standing – transforms into his interest in his tower whose crevices and degradation are instead praised. What joins these interests is the impression these buildings make in the land, and not the history they presuppose. The ideal figure in this vein is that of the dancer – whom we see, for example, in The Wanderings of Oisin, ‘Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen’, and ‘The Double Vision of Michael Robartes’ – because of the privileging of indeterminacy and the continuous process of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation. Foucault (1980) calls this counter-memory. This idealism is visible in the earlier period in As You Like It, when a dance takes place to celebrate the return of Duke Senior’s land to him, and in Edmund Spenser’s and Sir John Davies’s respective poetry. This counter-memorial preference also conditions Yeats’s response to the (successive) Famine, Land Wars, and Irish revolution that sought to reterritorialise Irish land.

in Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature
Edna O’Brien’s self-disciplining bodies
Nicholas Taylor-Collins

The connection between Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue (1960–86) and Shakespeare has never been explored, despite the author’s insistence that she is an avid – even daily – reader of the Bard. This chapter undertakes this task by examining the correlations between The Country Girls’s villainous men and Shakespeare’s heroes and lotharios. Mr Gentleman is a version of Othello, while Eugene Gaillard is cast as both Othello and Petruchio. This means that Caithleen ‘Kate’ Brady becomes, passively and in response to the men, the fille vièrge Desdemona and the tamed ‘Kate’ from The Taming of the Shrew. These women suffer because of and through their bodies, just like Caithleen, who bears the post-war burden of inhabiting the Mother Ireland figure. Caithleen’s final response to the male hegemony is to elect to have a hysterectomy. In the Epilogue, refreshed and unencumbered by her burdensome womb, she is able to reject the Mother Ireland symbol and become the woman she chooses to be. In doing so, her actions echo Hermione’s from The Winter’s Tale who, when revivified in the mode of early modern hysterical discourses, re-joins her daughter and family.

in Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature
Samuel Beckett’s theatrical bodies
Nicholas Taylor-Collins

Whilst great attention has (rightly) been paid to the intertextual references between Samuel Beckett’s drama and Shakespeare’s, relatively few analyses have examined how Beckett’s prose also talks with Shakespeare’s drama. This chapter examines how the male bodies of Beckett’s Three Novels (1951–53) suffer from physical problems, but in the cases of Malone and the Unnamable, they find ways to endure their pain – ways that are tried and tested in William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and Ben Jonson’s Volpone. Coriolanus’s body is a treacherous object for him, betraying his commitment to Rome and gifting the plebeians a focus of their ire. He wishes to ‘play / The man I am’ (III.ii.15–16), invoking a theatrical metaphor that leads me to consider the (anti)theatrical strain in the play. Ultimately, Coriolanus avoids the amnesia associated (by antitheatricalists) with plays and playgoing by becoming a better actor. He could have taken a lesson from Volpone, whose proclivity to acting underpins his entire deception. In Volpone, Jonson mocks playgoers and antitheatricalists alike as he takes the mimetic logic to a comic extreme. These two early modern characters and their theatrical strategies provide blueprints for Malone and the Unnamable. Malone invents memories as a way to circumvent amnesia and lethargy (also a failure of memory), and the Unnamable commits to the alienating and disembodying vocation of acting.

in Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature
W. B. Yeats, surface, and counter-memory
Nicholas Taylor-Collins

One of Seamus Heaney’s abiding motifs is of the underground, whether potatoes, ploughing the land, or the bog bodies. He is thus an archaeological poet. Less well sketched is the way that Heaney, in turn, archives these objects and images in his own poetry, thus becoming an arkhe-poet, too. This process – from archaeology to archive – is elucidated by Heaney’s fascination with Hamlet’s ‘dithering, blathering’ in the grave (from North’s [1975] ‘Viking Dublin: Trial Pieces’). Hamlet’s willingness to muck in provides a blueprint for Heaney’s own archaeological interests. Furthermore, a consideration of Hamlet’s own subterranean interests and connections to the physical land – he was born on the day his father won the Norwegian lands that became his by inheritance – invites a consideration of the motif of disease in both Hamlet and across Heaney’s oeuvre. Doing so reveals another key link between the two. Heaney’s archiving of diseased and pierced nature in his poems – wounded bodies, fish with infected cuts, a spade dug into the ground – confirms that Heaney’s interest is also with territory and with the idea of de-seizing Irish land. This etymological pun is also at work in Hamlet. This archaeo-poet is also (and at the same time) an arkhe-poet through which he becomes a capital-H Historian (Steedman, 2001): he curates the past in his poetry which, itself, becomes ‘perfected in my memory’ (‘The Grauballe Man’).

in Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature
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Hamlet, memory, and Leopold Bloom’s poiesis
Nicholas Taylor-Collins

Although memory is not explicitly named in Ulysses (1922) ‘Hades’, it nonetheless features centrally. In ‘Hades’, Shakespeare is remembered – specifically the Ghost’s relation to Hamlet, whom he bids to ‘Remember’ and ‘revenge’. Derrida calls this relation ‘hauntological’: it is characterised by an uncertain gaze, the father telling his son what to do, and the son mourning for his father. In Bloom’s mourning for his father, Virág, hauntology might be expected. However, it is Bloom’s late son, Rudy, who hauntologises Bloom, thereby revitalising the latter; this adjusts Shakespeare’s original Ghost–Hamlet hauntology. While considering repeatable ways of maintaining this hauntology, Bloom jocularly reverts to new technology: the phonograph and photograph. His plan reveals his relish for liminality and poiesis: being and non-being at the same time. Bloom is thus remembered into the future, all the while Ulysses is haunted by Hamlet.

in Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature

Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature explores intertextual memories of William Shakespeare in modern Irish writing. It proposes a new way of reading these memories through ‘dismemory’. Dismemory describes disruptive memories that are future oriented, demonstrating how Irish writers make use of Shakespeare to underwrite the Irish nation-state. The ghosts section foregrounds the father–son relation in Irish literature that is modelled on the ‘hauntological’ (Derrida, 1993) relation between Hamlet’s Ghost and his son. This relation is paradigmatic for Irish writers, evident through J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World (1907), ‘Hades’ from James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), and John Banville’s Ghosts (1993). These examinations demonstrate how each adapts the father–son structure from Hamlet. The section on bodies thinks through Beckett’s Three Novels (1951–53) and Edna O’Brien’s Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue (1960–86) and how they foreground the material body. These bodies are tied either to the antitheatrical discourse (Beckett) or to maternity discourses (O’Brien), and in both cases, the Irish writers manage to throw off the bodies’ burdens much as their early modern literary forebears did. Finally, the land section examines W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney – first Yeats’s concern with the surface of the land results in an ideal image of the dancer, as in As You Like It and Edmund Spenser’s Colin Clouts Come Home Again; then, Heaney’s interest in the land’s depths. Heaney restores these unearthed Irish memories in his poetry, thereby creating a new Irish archive.

John Banville’s Ghosts
Nicholas Taylor-Collins

John Banville’s Ghosts (1993) begins with a description of a boat ‘list[ing]’ after foundering on an island’s beach, which critics have read as an allusion to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. However, the intertextual memory also recalls Hamlet’s Ghost instruction to ‘List’ to his story. Taking the reference as central to the novel, the chapter explores how the protagonist, Freddie, responds to Felix, a ghostly figure from his past. Freddie is disturbed by Felix’s arrival because he disrupts the isolated bubble that Freddie has constructed for himself on the island, reminding Freddie of his murderous past. As the novel unfolds, we learn of another ‘murder’ that Freddie committed: he ‘kills’ his son Van, but only in a story to a friend. Nevertheless, leaving Van to live his life fatherless, Freddie escapes into a shadow world on the island. In terms of the Hamlet–Ghosts connection, this proves that Freddie prefers to be the Ghost rather than the hero. From this spectral position, Freddie is able to conduct his research into the painter Vaublin – and to ghostwrite the Professor’s book on the subject. Readers witness this spectral and disruptive memory – disruptive because hidden yet functioning – because readers of Ghosts also witness the composition of the fake Vaublin painting – Le monde d’or – over the course of the novel. Freddie is therefore a ghostpainter as well as a ghostwriter, finally demonstrating how dismemory – in this case creating memories now in a bid to shape the present – is both Freddie’s and the Ghost’s concern.

in Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature
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Rare tetragrams plus, shared between Kyd’s sole- authored plays
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in Shakespeare’s tutor
Darren Freebury- Jones

Martin Mueller has created a database called Shakespeare His Contemporaries, which consists of over 500 plays dated between 1552 and 1662. Shakespeare His Contemporaries lists play pairs that share large numbers of dislegomena (phrases that occur within only two plays in Mueller’s corpus) consisting of four words or more, and therefore provides empirical data that can help researchers to explore the intertextual relationships among early modern texts. This chapter investigates the number and nature of these parallels, drawing upon the idea of Shakespeare’s aural, or ‘actor’s’, memory, explored by scholars such as Geoffrey Bullough, John Tobin, Charles R. Forker, and Ian Lancashire. The chapter also elaborates on the theory that Shakespeare had acted in plays attributable to Kyd for Pembroke’s Men, as presented by J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, Arthur Freeman, and Terence Schoone-Jongen. Having explored phrasal repetitions according to the dramatic contexts in which they appear, the chapter concludes that in order to distinguish between authorship and influence in contested texts such as Arden of Faversham, more work needs to be done to ascertain the patterns of influence in Shakespeare’s plays. The chapter also deals with claims that Shakespeare had a hand in that play, and establishes that, on the basis of phraseology, prosody, and versification habits, there is no evidence for Arden of Faversham being a co-authored play or for Shakespeare’s hand in the verbal fabric of the text. The stylistic unity of Arden of Faversham points to a single author, and that author is Kyd.

in Shakespeare’s tutor