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By Mary Jean Corbett

Corbett explores fictional and nonfictional representations of Ireland's dating with England through the 19th century. She considers the makes use of of familial and household metaphors in structuring narratives that enact the ''union'' of britain and eire. Corbett situates her readings of novels by means of Edgeworth, Gaskell, and Trollope, and writings via Burke, Engels, and Mill, in the various old contexts that form them. She revises the severe orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that presently be successful in Irish and English stories, and provides a clean point of view on vital elements of Victorian tradition.

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Additional info for Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold

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And he rhetorically registered his outrage at the French Revolution in terms drawn from an available vocabulary of gender/class polarity, particularly visible in the celebrated section of the Reflections concerning the French royal family. But helpful as Blakemore and Paulson are in identifying the conventional class and gender associations of Burke’s rhetoric, they do not employ gender as an analytic category in their readings; by contrast, my concern is not so much with how femininity figures in the Reflections, but in what ways and for what purposes it is written out, or written in, as a force in maintaining or disturbing the Burkean status quo.

For Padel, writing from another position, albeit also as a stranger, there is a different kind of responsibility in traveling as she does, literally and metaphorically, between England and Ulster. Her representations of the travels and travails of the colonial Irish past – as in a poem called ‘‘Conn’’ on the Flight of the Earls, an historical trauma that ‘‘every Irish child / counts back from / and no English kid’s ever known’’ (–) – are framed by a parallel experience of ignorance and indifference in the present.

The Burkean view of the unruly family as source and site of social and political disorder thus provides my heuristic key to Edgeworth’s similarly conceived representation of Irish life before the Union in Castle Rackrent () as riddled by the failure of a native Irish patriarchy properly to propagate itself. In its anglicizing discourse on language, and its representations of gender, class, and national formations as they shape and are shaped by matters of inheritance and property, Castle Rackrent exhibits a formal and thematic drive to represent a version of what has been in Ireland, ‘‘before the year ,’’ that also hints at what should be, after the upheavals of .

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