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Once Upon a Space

Luke Gibbons

Brian O’Doherty: Collected Essays, by Brian O’Doherty, edited by Liam Kelly, University of California Press, 360 pp, $34.95, ISBN: 978-0520286559

In “Las Vegas Revisited”, one of the most recent essays in this collection, Brian O’Doherty recalls his experience of Las Vegas in the 1960s when it was a “man-made Monument Valley” of signs, the mesa formations of neon and giant billboards illuminating the wilderness. In today’s age of connectivity, however, the billboard has all but disappeared and has been replaced by the simulacrum. Replicas of the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, even St Mark’s Campanile in Venice (complete with gondolas), grace the skyline, as if attempting “to forestall a visit to Europe by reproducing its iconic treasures.” But in fact a corner of Europe, if not quite one of its greatest treasures, had already made it to Las Vegas in its golden age. A full-page colour photograph of the Stardust Hotel sign from 1970, reproduced in the book, proclaims the famous venue’s star attractions, among them, all the way from Waterford, “Ireland’s Royal Show Band”.

Nor was the journey all one-way. In present-day Las Vegas, O’Doherty marvels at the setting up of the sprawling Boneyard and Neon Museum which salvages mammoth cast-offs from the now fallen empire of signs, including “the scintillating Silver Slipper from the casino of the same name”. Connoisseurs of the showband scene in Ireland in the 1960s will remember the bright neon signs of the Nevada Strips’s more humble cousins: the Silver Slipper Ballroom in Strandhill, Co Sligo, the Mayflower in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, and, not least, the Cloudland in Roosky, Co Roscommon, Brian O’Doherty’s native county (and the first in a chain of ballrooms run by Albert Reynolds, later to become Ireland’s taoiseach).

Born in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, in 1928, Brian O’Doherty qualified as a medical doctor in UCD in 1952 and emigrated to America in 1957 to study at the School of Public Health at Harvard. A medical livelihood was soon set aside, however, as he embarked on a distinguished career as a visual artist, art critic, arts administrator and curator, as well as novelist, one of his books, The Deposition of Father McGreevy, being nominated for the Booker Prize in 2000. While a student in Dublin, his artistic ability and eye for art had already become apparent, attracting the friendship of Thomas MacGreevy and Jack B Yeats (O’Doherty drew the last portrait of the artist in 1957, and both MacGreevy and Yeats sponsored his scholarship to Harvard in 1957). In 1972, as a response to Bloody Sunday in Derry, O’Doherty changed his artist’s name to “Patrick Ireland”, and did not relinquish the pseudonym until the consolidation of the Peace Process in 2008, interring his persona in a mock funeral in the Irish Museum of Modern Art. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; National Museum of American Art, Washington DC, and elsewhere. He worked as art critic for The New York Times in the early 1960s and as editor-in-chief of Art in America, and his influential critical works include American Masters: The Voice and the Myth (1974); his creative/critical project, ASPEN 5/6, in Colorado (1967), with contributions by Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett, Roland Barthes, John Cage, Susan Sontag, among others; and his landmark book, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of Gallery Space (1976, 1999), which changed radically the relations between the art-work, gallery, and wider cultural fields.

Collected Essays is a long overdue publication, the earliest essay, on Andy Warhol, dating from 1967, and the latest, “Las Vegas Revisited”, and also an essay on Robert Rauschenberg, written in 2016. In “Kane’s Welles: The Phantom of the Opus”, O’Doherty remarks that some problems, like problems in philosophy, solve themselves by simply going out of date but if so, the ideas in this collection, and the problems they address, have a long way to go. In Citizen Kane, time and narrative are themselves the problem and its theme of lost innocence is far from being a cliché, according to O’Doherty, particularly “when you add the heavy baggage of Welles’ unusual childhood”. Certain events await their time, often amounting to decades, to fully sink in, leading to the observation: “I first saw Kane as a child in a provincial Irish town, and the experience, as they say, remains vivid.” The enigma of Kane is that though it captures childhood like few others, its images were lost on the child sitting in the dark, as they were on most of the audience:

The explanation at the end, as the word [‘Rosebud’] is consumed by fire and the sled becomes smoke (in an image of memory), did not discharge the mystery but enhanced it. It was less and more than the child sitting in the cinema expected. The audience was mystified, or perhaps the hush one remembers was more like awe.

It is the ability of images to slip through the nets of memory, if not quite of meaning, that is at stake here: “The images resisted language, that is, they retained the potency of children’s dreams.” This becomes an abiding theme in the essays on art, film, photography, and visual culture in the book, and in the extended discussions (amounting to four essays each) of Edward Hopper and Mark Rothko, both of whom O’Doherty knew personally, many of its implications are teased out.

It is not surprising that windows feature so prominently in Hopper’s paintings, for though purporting to divide private from public space, inner and outer life, they bear witness to their inseparability. The “guillotine of light” that often bisects a room is in fact a visitor from outer space, reminding the lonely person of the world they are shutting out. Figures seem to keep to themselves, even in the company of others, but if we look at their surroundings, we catch a glimpse of the furniture – and architecture – of the mind. It becomes clear that Hopper is painting not only windows but light, whose powers of illumination barely dispel what O’Doherty calls the “mysterious realism” at the heart of his work. Though windows invite a voyeuristic look intensified by cinema, that look meets with uncertainty and inscrutability, as if the scene itself is attempting to give pause for thought: even the nude figures hide in plain sight, the body acting as the clothes that have gone missing. The viewer appears to be given privileged access but attention is unsettled and dispersed through the visual field. In Room in Brooklyn (1932), a woman sits in a chair with her back to the viewer, looking out a tripartite window over the roofs of houses across the street. The eye is induced to follow her gaze out the window but a centre-piece placed to the right, a brightly lit vase with flowers standing on a display table, attracts – or distracts – the eye, just as the missing green blind in the centre window “reappears” as a shadow on the floor. Night Windows (1928) again presents three windows, and there is a similar “chaperoning of the gaze” as a woman in a bedroom is not only “edited by the window frame” but offset to the left by a billowing window curtain, casting its light to the wind. The gaze itself is under scrutiny: “to see sight” is Hopper’s aim or, as O’Doherty puts it in another essay, “to what is observed is added the process of observation”.

Hopper liked to speak about painting a scene “to look like when there was no one to see it, nobody looking in” but for this very reason, the withholding of access puts the viewer on the spot. That windows and doors block, or at least problematise, vision is clear from O’Doherty’s meticulous account of one of Hopper’s most famous paintings, Early Sunday Morning (1930), a frontal presentation of a terrace of shop fronts, the only signs of life hinted at by the different positions of blinds in upstairs windows. Three overhanging shop signs at right angles to the wall almost escape notice, their presence betrayed by shadows, but what O’Doherty’s eye catches more than any other feature is the lack of fit between ground and first floors: the shops appear to be discrete units, but when examined more closely, it is difficult to align the position of upstairs windows with the doors and shop fronts below. Facades do not reveal easily what is behind them, as if the material world possesses its own inner life – which in any case, even in its human manifestations, is only negotiated through public forms.

Hence O’Doherty’s summing up of Hopper’s stranded interiority: “He could know that self only through his work.” One of the main concerns in these essays is to raise questions about the retreat into subjectivity responsible for the cult of the personality in the art world, locating meaning in the depths of the self rather than the public domain of the artwork. In an interview elsewhere, O’Doherty confessed he “never wished to make art from the degraded slums of my inner life”, and this fascination with multiple voices and different creative personae, discussed in the essays “On the Nature of Masquerade” and “Divesting the Self: A Striptease”, features in his own work, whether in the character of “Patrick Ireland”, “William Maginn” (narrator of The Deposition of Father McGreevy and in real life, the nineteenth-century Cork-born editor of Fraser’s Magazine, William Maginn (pseudonymously “Sir Morgan O’Doherty”), who published Carlyle and Thackeray and whose essays were collected in The O’Doherty Papers [1855]), “Mary Josephson” (a contributor to Art in America and author of the second Warhol essay in the collection, “Warhol: The Medium as Cultural Artifact”), and others. Roland Barthes’s contribution to ASPEN 5/6, the project curated by O’Doherty in Colorado in 1967, was his famous essay, “The Death of the Author”, but rumours of death were perhaps exaggerated – as in the case of Patrick Ireland, who had the good fortune to be able to turn up at his own funeral.

The dissociation between art and inner life (not the same as between art and life) is seen in the late style of Mark Rothko’s “Black paintings”, the reversion to sombre, tenebrous colours often being equated with the onset of the deep depressions that led to the artist’s suicide in 1970. In “Rothko’s Dark Paintings: Tragedy and Void”, co-written with Barbara Novak, Rothko’s brooding vision is attributed more to Nietzsche’s prescient reading of the dark side of modernity, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), and “the echo chamber of associations” set off by Rothko’s use of colour evoke tonal qualities of mood, atmosphere, even frames of mind, rather than content as such. In a telling example, the art historian Robert Rosenblum once suggested that the removal of a single small figure, standing on the shore, in Caspar David Friedrich’s overcast seascape Monk by the Sea (1809), would be sufficient to convert it into a Rothko painting such as Green on Blue (1956). As if to prevent this figuration, Rothko took care to invert the sky/shore relation, placing the “light” side on the bottom: even so, his somnolent colours “summon the forgotten ghosts of landscape” (as Robert Goldwater put it). The fallacy of reading off the personality from the work, moreover, is evident in the fact that while executing the Black canvasses, Rothko was also painting paperworks “marvelous in their energy and delight, vulnerable in their frank lyricism”, which “seemed not so much to be calling up familiar emotions as inventing new ones”. These works, according to O’Doherty, “counter interpretations of the dark paintings as despairing documents”; and “Rothko always had painted in spite of, rather than because of” his personal travails.

In Hopper’s late works, there is a drive towards abstraction, lozenges of colour and planes of light suggesting (in Sam Hunter’s phrase) a “representational Rothko”, but by the same token, abstraction in Rothko is not an exercise in “secular formalism”, answering only to aesthetic ends. His monumental series, the fourteen dark-hued works around which the Rothko Chapel was built in Houston in 1971, are exhibited in the calm setting of an ecumenical church, and though devoid of religious consolation, they still aspire to a “beyond”. It was perhaps for this reason that Rothko withdrew his Seagram Paintings (1958–59) from the restaurant for which they were intended: the idea that his work could be reduced to mere background, still less set the scene for fine dining, is “hardly thinkable”. Instead of standing alone, Rothko’s works refer to each other and open onto their environments, accruing different meanings, or eliciting divergent responses, according to their exhibition contexts. It was not so much that meanings are projected onto the vast canvasses but that the “intransigent moods” evoked by the colours inundate the spectator, filling a void created rather than vacated by truth. So much do the works merge with their surroundings that a woman once approached Rothko at a retrospective, inquiring where the pictures were: the artist’s insistence that his images take the form of easel paintings, no matter how large, rather than murals, sought to prevent this confusion.

Notwithstanding the “intimate majesty” of the Rothko Chapel, O’Doherty notes a number of anomalies in the building’s design (Philip Johnson originally received the commission but did not see eye to eye with the painter). The decision to opt for a low ceiling with a central skylight meant that – in a manner reminiscent of Hopper – the light “hits the floor and misses the pictures, i.e. the spectator is illuminated”, and the pictures are darker than ever. Another feature touches on an aspect close to O’Doherty’s own work: the position of doors. In O’Doherty’s mural series One Here Now (1996) (on the walls of the Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, reopened to the public in April 2018), the Ogham-based colour abstractions take into consideration, and work into the logic of display, the doors that lead into the room, and which otherwise would break up the patterns. In the Rothko Chapel, by contrast,

each triptych [of paintings] is set between a pair of doors, and there are two more doors flanking the single picture, on the main entrance and exit wall. Why these doors are there – Johnson knows nothing about them – is a bit of a mystery, since they punch man size tickets at places where Rothko’s triptychs need, indeed demand, an unbroken wall.

One is reminded of Beckett’s acute awareness of the intrusion of doors/lights in theatre auditoriums, leading to his controversial decision to black out even Exit signs during the first staging of “Not I” at the Royal Court in 1973.

The motif of doors crops up repeatedly in these essays, most notably in the brilliant suggestion that the “American baroque” (in Andrew Sarris’s phrase) of Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane owes much of its vertiginous hall-of-mirrors effects to Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656) – for Welles, Velázquez was the “Shakespeare of painters”. In Velázquez’s painting, pictorial space is “so potent, so psychologically alert, that a move or gesture within it instantly provokes a reading of intention, or several intentions”. This extends to the spectator, at once an object of vision for the figures “looking out” from the canvas (including the painter himself), while at the same time being aware that “at a certain moment, Las Meninas forces the spectator to switch places with the king and queen (the original spectators) reflected in the distant mirror”. But just when it appears that the sovereign gaze controls the room, a figure framed in a distant doorway at the back comes into view: “a chamberlain surveys the room and its inhabitants; he sees the reverse of what we see, and more, because he sees us”. As if in response to the compression of space under a controlling vision, the chamberlain’s “posture does not block the door but allows the space exit, as it were” – precisely the escape route Beckett tried to close off at the Royal Court. O’Doherty points out that this “distant doorway” recurs throughout Citizen Kane, exploiting the use of deep focus photography by Gregg Toland to maximum effect, and perhaps offering a young boy in a cinema in rural Ireland in the 1940s a momentary glimpse of an escape route in years to come from the valley of the squinting windows.

The density of Rothko’s colour fields is such that though “heavy”, swathes of paint seem to float on, or hover over, the canvas, so that distinctions between above/below, front/back, or figure/ground are not readily apparent, while yet eliciting perceptions of immersion or depth. The modulated colours seem to open onto a recessive space, but as Roland Barthes astutely noted in another context, the layers “envelope nothing other than the totality of its surfaces”. In the world of Andy Warhol, by contrast, the flat earth theories abandoned in the Middle Ages come back truly to haunt commodity culture in the guise of surfaces, veneers, facades, without even the illusion of depth. The logic of flatness endorsed by Clement Greenberg as a barrier to the kitsch of mass culture is turned on its head, though if it is not clear in the end, as O’Doherty notes, whether the serial production of the factory system is itself being endorsed or ironised (Warhol’s “I want to be a machine” is fodder for the press as much as a provocation of Wildean genius).

One strange aspect of Warhol’s celebrity images is that notwithstanding their striking visual qualities (the often commented-on darkening of “identical” images of Marilyn, for example, as the series ends), their resonance is bound up with the staying power of their subjects. Marilyn, Jackie, Elvis are, in a sense, still with us, but what about Troy Donahue, the teenage heart-throb who was also an initial member of Warhol’s hall of fame? Are some images the silkscreen equivalent of the billboard aesthetic of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas? Raising interesting questions about what he terms “period aesthetics”, O’Doherty reflects on the other side of this process whereby the only crime committed by some neglected artists is that they fell out of fashion, but never went out of date. His essay on Han Richter’s (1888-1976) pioneering experiments in mixed media forms, emulating in film the flatness of paintings, has to be seen in this light, as are the exercises in retrieval of the reputations of John Chamberlain, Peter Hutchinson and others. One of the most timely is “FACEtime: Katharina Sieverding, and (Maybe) Oscar Wilde”, which contrasts Sieverding’s large full-frontal facial portraits, which seem to be all surface, with Warhol’s famous faces. Both adopt artifice to cancel psychological depth but Sieverding also eschews repetition. In a variation of the classic Kuleshov experiment redeploying the same face in different visual sequences to evoke different emotions, Sieverding’s use of “a honeycomb of different poses and expressions emphasises proximity, but repetition is denied through unlikeness”. The photographs have “an expressionist rumble that, however distant, refers to a very different anxiety”, relating to politics in the Germany of the Baader-Meinhof period. “The content gathered by different locations … is the issue here. In Germany, these faces gather content out of thin air, and become full with it.”

As against Sieverding’s portraits, the peculiar blankness of Warhol’s face invites projection rather than expression: “its suggestiveness depends on its superficiality; any hint of expression, of inner life, immediately withdraws from the image its iconic status ... Warhol’s genius in composing his own face is that there is nothing behind it.” What is behind does not matter so much as what is under: Warhol is a diviner of the underground, a “Narcissus in Hades”. His improvised art-house film Chelsea Girls (1967) captures the bleak, backstage life of Warhol’s “stars” in the Chelsea Hotel, dispensing with narrative and using twin projectors to combine split-screen stories, alternating sound between snatches of conversation. As if losing thread, the camera drifts, “zooming in and out on whatever catches its attention – irrelevant details of clothing and environment, body parts, crotches; it wanders, overexposes, blurs, holds glassily still”.

In this indeterminacy, stretching time to tedium and boredom, it is possible to see outlines of an oppositional aesthetic to the high gloss of Hollywood and the calculus of effects in the image industry – not to mention, in a digital age of “hits” and short attention spans, the potential hacking of the human itself. “Rauschenberg/Counter Rauschenberg” focuses on how the jarring, seemingly arbitrary juxtapositions of images, words and different media forms – photography, paint, silk-screen, journalism, film – in Rauschenberg’s “combines” disrupt the soporific flow of market-driven images through “networks of disconnections”, the montage “stopping a run of associations here, a spectator’s unwelcome projection there”. In Bernice Rose’s words, quoted in the essay, “each change of context … visually reinforces the work as a shifting memory structure in which public, private, contemporary, real and imaginary contexts are merged”.

“Segal’s Metropolis” examines how this re-contextualisation is taken a stage further in the prosaic banality of George Segal’s life-size plaster sculptures, going about their daily rounds in a manner that calls up the social milieu of their actions, albeit in gallery space (though Segal also used real-life sites, such as street crossings, in some cases). Whereas waxworks of the Madame Tussaud’s variety annihilate context, inviting intrusion into their space to inspect details that achieve the desired “reality effect”, real-life objects accompanying Segal’s tableaus, such as utensils added to Ruth in the Kitchen (1964), had to be removed; they may have been true to life but they were not true to the sculpture and its surroundings. “Segal’s literalism – there are no quotation marks around his objects, unless of course we conceive them as quoting themselves – preserved the source’s context or restored it. Segal’s art gives a sense of contact with living that we do not find in much advanced postwar art.” There is an additional contextual nuance, registering the situated nature of the work. The lifesize figures are plaster casts of actual people, bearing traces of physical contact with life. In keeping with Warhol’s shallow or empty signs, Segal’s figures are also hollow but the space left behind is formed by direct “indexical” impressions, the inside presenting an inverse copy of the original.

The power of the “indexical” sign – in contact with, or bearing witness to, its site of enunciation – is at the heart, quite literally, of O’Doherty’s own portrait of Marcel Duchamp, which took the form of an electrocardiogram of the famous artist’s heartbeat. That it should end up in a museum rather than a doctor’s surgery is in keeping with Duchamp’s own aesthetic appropriations of found objects, and the essay “Taking Duchamp’s Portrait” recounts with some amusement Duchamp’s attempt to persuade O’Doherty, in his capacity as a medical doctor, to sign the portrait “Brian O’Doherty MD”, which would assign the wily sitter partial authorship. In “The Politics and Aesthetics of Heart Transplants”, written the same year as the Duchamp essay, Andy Warhol’s image of man/woman as machine takes on a new valence as “the transplanted heart revives, more than anything else, the Frankenstein myth”, the “swoon of consciousness into technology, the loss of self that was itself a fiction” drawing closer to reality. But the newspapers that enquired, “Would Dr Blaiberg’s [the second recipient of a transplant] thoughts be affected by the foreign heart in his chest?” need not have worried: as philosophers such as Wittgenstein had argued, the capacity to find meaning in the world derives less from consciousness conceived purely in mental or physical terms than from human agency embodied in symbolic forms, and grounded in material social practices. In “Barzyk: Electronic Visionary”, O’Doherty points out that Brecht’s early influence on the innovative television/video director and producer Fred Barzyk encouraged him to see “background”, both on stage and in society, as “making manifest the shaping social forces against which an individual’s dilemmas define themselves”: “background makes its own comment on stage happenings … which were plastic but unclear in their meaning”.

 For this reason, “the interaction between figure and environment” is an analogue to “figure and ground” in psychology, an affinity that informs the essay on the composer Morton Feldman (also a close friend of O’Doherty’s). Silence is usually relegated to that which falls between the notes in music but in Feldman’s serial compositions, as in John Cage, “silence had a curious figure-ground relationship … sometimes figure, sometimes ground”. In the shrill contemporary world, Feldman’s reminder that “whispering caught attention more than shouting” is timely advice. The reworking of figure and ground is also central to the empathic discussion of the rope installations in Eva Hesse’s all too short career as an avant-garde artist. The imperceptible – or unnoticed – space of the gallery takes on the force of gravity in her work and becomes, in effect, a medium (perhaps of the kind that allows space to escape through the back door in Velazquez). Hesse transformed drawing into sculpture by extending “lines” into the three-dimensional space of the gallery, using rope and string to convey the impression of a skein in free-fall, the ligatures coiling, as she suggested herself, like serpents in the Laocoön. Contrary to perceptions of gravity as dead weight, the tangles, slumps, and sags of the suspended tracery “are always aware of gravity’s gentle tugs”. Context and content are interwoven as “ground” enters into the folds, twists and turns of the “figure”, the support becoming integral to the work: “Against the even constant of gravity, a uniform ‘ground’ space swerves and flows around the forms with the speed and antic certainty of thought.” It is difficult not to think of O’Doherty’s own innovative rope drawings at this point, held in place not only by the precision of their sight lines but also by the point of the view of the spectator.

The indexical sign (Segal’s plaster casts, Duchamp’s portrait) is accentuated in language by “deixis”, the use of words (such as pronouns) dependent on location and time for their meaning. “One Here Now”, O’Doherty’s mural series at the Sirius Arts Centre (formerly the Yacht Club) in Cobh, draws on the deictic force of its title, as does its intricate use of the ancient Irish Ogham alphabet: the only surviving Ogham inscriptions are on standing stones in the Irish countryside, rooted to the spot. The narrative that unfolds in word and image in this exhibit might begin “Once upon a space”, to cite an early essay of O’Doherty’s (not in this collection). Cobh is a shrine to the uprooted, a place of transit for hundreds of thousands of emigrants who passed through it on their way to America (including O’Doherty himself in 1957).

Irish concerns feature in this collection more as viewpoints than as content, though the relation of art to the Northern Ireland conflict is the explicit focus of two essays, “Terrible Beauty: On Steve McQueen’s Hunger”, and “Nigel Rolfe: Two Drums”. For the most part, the “allusion, indirection”, and “inversion of clichés” that O’Doherty finds in the work of James Coleman (also born, as it happens, in Ballaghaderreen), marks his own approach. In “James Coleman: What Waiting Can Do, Given Time”, it is the “Now” that is insistent. The extended duration of time under violence is recreated in Coleman’s installation Box (1977), a video installation of footage from the famous Gene Tunney/Jack Dempsey return bout of 1927 (signalled in the complete title of the work: Box (ahhareturnabout)). In the fight, the passage of time was momentarily suspended by the “long count” when Tunney, knocked down by Dempsey, availed of the additional seconds afforded to him by his opponent’s failure to return to his corner. It is appropriate that Tunney’s stream of consciousness is activated rather than shut down by the pulverising of his body, shards of sentences in the voice-over containing, as O’Doherty notes, allusions to “Murphy”, “evergreen”, and other oblique references to both Tunney’s and Dempsey’s Irish backgrounds. “Evergreen” may prefigure the “everlasting” garland of leaves Coleman hung at Leopold Bloom’s home, 7 Eccles Street, in 1982 on the centenary of James Joyce’s birth, before the subsequent demolition of the house. Coleman, writes O’Doherty, “is most appreciated out of his own country” but his “exclusive indeterminacies looking for interpretative signs – relate to his own country”.

As the essays in this collection show, much the same could be said of Brian O’Doherty’s wide-ranging contributions to the visual arts and letters. Writing on Joseph Cornell, O’Doherty cites a letter the artist sent to him which recounted the sad fate of a bird discovered by the German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt in South America: this “venerable bird” had “the sole knowledge of a dead language, the whole tribe of Indians … who alone spoke it having become extinct”. Cornell has scribbled in red ink on the letter “To be continued ...”. The idea that a distinctive voice, or a remarkable body of work, can echo whole worlds of experience runs through many of these essays, not least of the voices being those of the author himself.

1/12/2018

Luke Gibbons taught as professor of Irish Studies at Maynooth University and is the author of Joyce’s Ghosts: Ireland, Modernism and Memory (2015).

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