A Tantalizing Taste

With just a few days to go until the 2012 annual Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society conference, here’s a tempting taste of what’s to come in the form of an abstract for Professor James Chandler’s plenary lecture, ‘Maria Edgeworth, Edmund Burke and the First Irish Ulysses’:

More than a century before Joyce’s use of the Odyssey to frame his famous novel, Maria Edgeworth produced her own influential treatment  of those Homeric materials in The Absentee (1812). In her hands, the narrative of the hero’s incognito return takes on the inflections of her own moment, especially from the writings of Edmund Burke on the problems of absentee rule. Burke’s thought is as much a part of the frame of this novel as Homer’s epic is, and Edgeworth brings the Odyssey and Burke together to pose a certain problem of sentiment.  It was in this vein that Sir Walter Scott, an avowed disciple of Edgeworth’s novel, redeployed the Ulysses motif in Ivanhoe (1819).  The paper will also include some speculations about James Barry’s 1778 painting of himself with Edmund Burke, that latter in the character of
Ulysses.

For those who have yet to register for the lecture at the Royal Irish Academy, I’m afraid you’re out of luck, as the discourse is fully booked. I have been assured, however, that no one will be turned away, so come along on Friday at 6 pm if you’d like to hear more about this fascinating subject.

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