Post-national Irish lit


Lola Boorman interviewed us for Trinity College’s magazine, tn2.

Literary culture’s current relationship to the Internet is a complex one. In a sense, online magazines have created a globalised literary community, a freedom of form and subject, which frees writers from the tyranny of “house style”. “That’s the beauty of the internet, bringing different writers together… I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a national literature anymore,” Tomaselli details. This post-national view of literature is something that may seem jarring to Irish literary culture, which is undeniably founded upon finding the Irish influence in almost everything. Tomaselli’s comment echoes that of author and contributor to gorse, Rob Doyle in his recent interview with tn2, “The new kind of online life feels post-national and ahistoric, and it’s hard to know how literature is going to work with and represent that, but it will have to if it’s going to keep up with how people are living now”.

gorse appears to be crafting this idea into print, and indeed, it’s a necessary adaptation that many publications have had to make. Like The Stinging Fly, gorse stands for a much more nuanced crafting of “Irish” identity, a middle ground between Irish essentialism and what Gavan calls the culture of “aping London”. Both Gavan and Tomaselli are hugely concerned with the establishment of a more vibrant, literary community and ethos in Ireland to stave off intellectual and literary emigration. Perhaps, part of this new identity is the recognition of its limits, the need and desire to go elsewhere in order to reflect on what can be produced here. “I’m proud to be Irish, but I think it’s Kevin Barry that said that Ireland is this dark little rock on the corner of Europe, and I just think that’s a great image,” Tomaselli mused.