The Cottage by the Lough in Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic: Between Finite and Infinite

Abstract : My paper will focus on the representation of the cottage by the lough in Colum McCann’s latest novel published last May. While the narrative mixes the storylines of real-life characters and fictional ones as they voyage across or fly over the Atlantic ocean between 1845 and 2012, it also comes back regularly to a key place: a family cottage by a lough, south of Belfast, between 1929 and 2012. While pointing out how this cottage operates as a specific lifeworld shared by an entire family over four generations, this paper will also examine what it reveals about space, place and movement in Colum McCann’s fiction in the light of Tim Ingold’s work on the history of lines (Lines: a brief History, Routledge, 2007). Moreover, for the first time in McCann’s fiction the general movement is one of return to Ireland. But in TransAtlantic place is not imbued with any nostalgia or grieving for a pastoral golden age. My contention is to show that Colum McCann’s writing creates lifeworlds not to make the apology of the past or pine over loss, but on the contrary to tell stories about what it means to be inhabiting the present moment and to be a contemporary writer. In this sense Colum McCann’s fiction echoes what Georgio Agamben defines as ‘kairos’, or seized time, embodied in the characters’ relationships to space as they gesture and leap forward into the future. As paradoxical as it seems, in zooming recurrently on the cottage by the lough, McCann proves he is an utterly contemporary writer, able to ‘dip his pen in the obscurity of the present’ (Agamben, “What is the contemporary?”, Stanford U. Press, 2009).
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01913593
Contributeur : Marie Mianowski <>
Soumis le : mardi 6 novembre 2018 - 14:12:24
Dernière modification le : mercredi 7 novembre 2018 - 01:15:02

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  • HAL Id : hal-01913593, version 1

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Marie Mianowski. The Cottage by the Lough in Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic: Between Finite and Infinite. Cork University Press. Lifeworlds : Space, Place and Irish Culture. Edited by Nessa Cronin and Tim Collins., In press. 〈hal-01913593〉

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