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Moving the Statue: Myths of Motherhood in Eavan Boland, Shakespeare and Early Modern Culture / Nicholas Taylor-Collins

Swansea University Author: Taylor-Collins, Nicholas

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Abstract

There are few explicit connections between Eavan Boland's poetry and Shakespeare's writing. Early in her career, Boland considered the successes of Shakespeare to be of a strategic order, citing his writing as a necessary course of action in a world where having money dictates the ability...

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Published: 2018
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa40903
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Abstract: There are few explicit connections between Eavan Boland's poetry and Shakespeare's writing. Early in her career, Boland considered the successes of Shakespeare to be of a strategic order, citing his writing as a necessary course of action in a world where having money dictates the ability to survive. Shakespeare's words stood 'sentries’ against ‘chaos' ('Shakespeare'). Along with this interest in poetry as defence against destitution, Boland has an abiding and prominent interest in writing women back into history. This essay explores how poetry which defies chaos, can help the woman poet, with whom Boland self-identifies, to return women to the otherwise male narratives of history. This strategy involves considering early modern mothers, and their renovated place in the humanist Renaissance, and how daughter figures are the catalysts for that renovation. As with Thaisa with Marina (Pericles) and Hermione with Perdita (The Winter's Tale) in Shakespeare's drama, this is a story of restoring the mother-daughter relationship, rehabilitating mothers and of securing the daughter's future. The paradigmatic figure for this strategy is the moving statue, when Hermione returns to 'life' from 'death', only for the play to end in time for Perdita's marriage to Florizell. Similarly, Boland's poetry is interested in reanimating the catatonic mothers of Ireland's history – not to destroy the myth of Mother Ireland, but to adapt it from within.
College: College of Arts and Humanities