Identity, Crossings and Hybridisms in Joseph O’Connor’s Works

Manfredi Bernardini


This paper looks into the works of Irish writer Joseph O’Connor and his perspective in the process of redefining the spacial, temporal and cultural links between Ireland and the Unites States.

In fact, a number of interesting points can be found throughout O’Connor works: the imagology (the image of the Irishman in the American culture); the investigation on prejudices and stereotypes (True Believers, 1991); border studies, although considered in a broader sense, one where the physical and geographical borders (the Atlantic Ocean) appear to be symbolic and imaginary.

Referring to the concept of Black Atlantic, as it was first proposed by Paul Gilroy, we can similarly imagine - acording to scholars such as David Lloyd and Peter O’Neill - a Green Atlantic, where the Ocean, after ceasing to represent a frontier, a border meant to separate, acquires a new meaning and becomes a place for bidirectional crossing: on the one hand as a means to cross over borders and synthesis between two cultures; in the other as a movement towards and beyond the limits of a Third Space, “a space of enunciation” and cultural negotiation, as Homi Bhabha would say.

Other fundamental and recurring themes in the novels of O’Connor are identity and memory (Sweet Liberty Travels in Irish America, 1996), the “look” of the Others (Inishowen, 2000) and towards the Other (Redemption Falls, 2007) and, more importantly, the Irish diaspora towards the United States, spanning from the final years of the 19th century until the first half of the 20th, when, in some respect, the United States were looked upon as a “promised land” (this is mostly evident in the novel Star of the sea, 2002).


Joseph O’Connor; Irishness; Diaspora; Geocritique; Crossing; Atlantic; Music;

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