Place and displacement in the works of Brian Friel and Seamus Heaney
This thesis seeks to locate Brian Friel and Seamus Heaney within a post-colonial and postmodern era of writing which is concerned with the problematising of an effective identifying relationship between self and place. In the first instance, the study is interested in the response of these two writers, within the literary forms of drama and poetry, to the recurrence of sectarian and neo-colonial conflict in Northern Ireland since the nineteen sixties. Obliged to deal with history as a category, their art emphasises the contest for the naming of people and terrain which has taken place within language, writing and discourse. But place for these writers is not only historical and material, it is sensual, familiar and parochial. The structural and narrative shape of the drama and poetry is that of a lived, intimate, non-literate engagement with the local particulars of place and a learned, artistic life which offers insight into that existence. The thesis is interested in the nature of this modern form of division: the detached, educated mind 'making strange' the ordinary assimilated life. Men of rural origins who pursue pedagogical and artistic vocations do not only offer educations in displacement, but contrarily, realise that language, education and writing generate displacement, uprooting the individual, and creating divisions in experience and consciousness. It is the syncretism of this personal experience of rural place, and of parochial and metropolitan forms of education and culture, with the historical colonial reformation of the Irish landscape through a culture of modernity which constitutes the main focus and major contribution in understanding of this thesis to the contemporary literature and society of Northern Ireland.