Castle Stopgap : historical reality, literary realism, and oral culture

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Title: Castle Stopgap : historical reality, literary realism, and oral culture
Authors: O'Donnell, Katherine
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Date: 2009
Online since: 2010-06-03T14:27:06Z
Abstract: One of the earliest novels set in Ireland to achieve popular and critical acclaim was Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent (1800). It is reported that King George III got great entertainment in reading this short novel, which relates the rambunctious genealogy of the various squires who were lords of Castle Rackrent as narrated by the family retainer, Thady Quirk. The delighted King is said to have declared: ‘I know something now of my Irish subjects’. It is this issue of knowing, specifically knowing the Irish subject that is the focus of this article, and the argument is made that knowledge and the processes of identification in the novel are ultimately made unintelligible by the gap between the different standards and practices of oral and literary cultures. To call the narrator, Thady Quirk, an unreliable narrator, fails at marking how fundamentally his narration undermines every convention of the realist novel. This article argues that Castle Rackrent is best understood owing a profound debt to the virtuoso oral performance of Anglo-Gaelic culture.
Funding Details: Not applicable
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Journal: Eighteenth Century Fiction
Volume: 22
Issue: 1
Start page: 115
End page: 130
Copyright (published version): ECF
Keywords: Maria EdgeworthCastle RackrentLiterary realismOral culture
Subject LCSH: Edgeworth, Maria, 1767-1849. Castle Rackrent
Oral tradition in literature
Realism in literature
DOI: 10.3138/ecf.22.1.115
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Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice Research Collection

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