Castle Rackrent 2. Outline. ME’s satire on ‘the Manners of the Irish squires’: narrative voice CR as a ‘dialogic’ novel Theory of the novel as dialogic The dialogism of ‘whiskey’ in CR The dialogism of CR ’s relation to JA’s MP. Narrative voice.
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Kathryn Kirkpatrick: ‘CR is, then, a dialogic novel.... with the multiple narrative voices of CR Edgeworth presents Irish identity as dialogue…. And dialogue is central be-cause Irish identity is actively negotiated and constructed, not borne along in the blood’ (Introd., 1995 ed., pp. xxiv-xxxvi)
[ME’s Irish novels] demonstrate the power of immaterial as well as material forces: class and ethnic relations in Ireland not only have economic determinants but are structured at the deepest levels of lang-uage, thought patterns, and cognition by the long-standing coexistence between two very different cultural traditions
Mikhail Bakhtin, ‘Discourse in the Novel’ (1934-35): ‘The dialogic orientation of a word among other words … creates new and significant artistic potential in dis-course, creates the potential for a dis-tinctive art of prose, which has found its fullest and deepest expression in the novel’ (The Dialogic Imagination (1981), p. 275)
The word in language is half someone else’s…. it is from there that one must take the word and make it one’s own…. Lang-uage is not a neutral medium that passes freely and easily into the private property of the speaker’s intentions; it is populated – overpopulated – with the intentions of others.
CR: ‘the new man did not take at all after the old gentleman – The cellars were never filled after his death – and no open house, or anything as it used to be – the tenants even were sent away without their whiskey – I was ashamed myself, and knew not what to say for the honour of the family’ (p. 12)
It is usual with some landlords to give their inferior tenants a glass of whiskey when they pay their rents. Thady calls it their whiskey; not that the whiskey is actually the property of the tenants, but that it becomes their right, after it has been often given to them. In this general mode of reasoning respecting rights, the lower Irish are not singular, but they are peculiarly quick and tenacious in claiming these rights (p. 103)
The struggle around ‘wake’ (in which whiskey is implicated): ‘At night the dead body is waked…. Pipes and tobacco are first distributed, and then according to the ability of the deceased, cakes and ale, and sometimes whiskey, are dealt to the company…. The young lads and lasses romp with one another…. It is said that more matches are made at wakes than at weddings’ (pp. 113-14)
In sum, JA may be said to borrow from ME – primarily, the country-house symbol – at the same time as she attempts to go be-yond her in her development of the novel form’s technical sophistication (improved characterization, etc.)
But . . . what happens to the political pro-gressivism of CR when JA produces a country-house novel of her own?