Death and the dinner party: hospitality and hungry history in Joyce and Bowen

Brewster, Scott (1998) Death and the dinner party: hospitality and hungry history in Joyce and Bowen. Angelaki, 3 (3). pp. 59-68. ISSN 0969-725X

Documents
Death and the dinner party: hospitality and hungry history in Joyce and Bowen

Request a copy
[img] Microsoft Word
AngelakiDeathDin.doc - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

62kB
Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

This article deploys Freud's work on totemic practice, mourning and the uncanny to analyse complex fictions of remembering and forgetting, invitation and exclusion played out around dinner tables in Joyce's "The Dead", and Bowen's The Last September and A World of Love. As Freud hypothesizes, and these literary texts appear to confirm, acts of communal eating, devoted directly or indirectly to commemorating absent figures, uncannily "bring up" history. None of these texts "chronicle" the devastating effects of the famine historically; indeed, there are no explicit references to those events. Yet dinner scenes in the work of these writers might be seen as staged in the famine's wake, textual moments in which the "outside" of history registers as an ineradicable residue or trace. If these texts are read in the aftermath of famine, then to celebrate plenty and collective identity in the form of a dinner party can function as a festive or ritual gesture of forgetting, whilst never fully effacing the unnerving resonances and survival of that historical moment. Thus a figurative pattern of consumption, memory and loss weaves through the proprieties of the dinner party. The discussion will elaborate a process of commemoration that simultaneously erases and sustains historical memory, excluding and including the dead.

Keywords:Hunger, Irish literature, Irish modernism, Elizabeth Bowen, The Great Famine, James Joyce, The Dead
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q323 English Literature by topic
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:15051
Deposited On:25 Sep 2014 11:07

Repository Staff Only: item control page