Home and Away: The House in Exilic Narratives

Shane Alcobia-Murphy* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article examines the ways in which two Irish writers use the setting and symbol of the house to depict traumatic rupture and the collapse of a sense of self as a result of loss. In both texts — Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce, and Timothy O’Grady and Steve Pyke’s I Could Read the Sky — dissolution of self occurs due to the movement away from the childhood domicile to England. If home can be defined as ‘a sense of belonging or attachment’, then ‘[m]ovement may necessitate or be precipitated by a disruption to a sense of home’. Emigration can result in the formation of an alternative diasporic, transnational community and support network in the absence of immediate familial ties, yet it can also foster a sense of ‘displacement and loneliness’ as well as ‘self‐perceptions of being exiled’. Emigration, whether forced or not, constitutes a form of exile, one which, as Edward Said argues, is experienced as ‘an unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between
the self and its true home’, and which results in a ‘crippling sorrow of estrangement’. That traumatic loss is conveyed in both authors’ use of the house (as setting and symbol).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-158
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Irish Studies in Europe
Issue number1
Early online date24 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2019


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