A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland

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Verso, 1997 - Science - 184 pages
A beautifully written exploration of identity and memory in a journey through Ireland. Strangely positioned between Europe and the postcolonial world, Ireland occupies a fluid and contradictory space, not least in the memory or imagination of its many emigrants. In this sensitive exploration of the culture of others, Rebecca Solnit returns to Ireland, armed with a newly acquired Irish passport -- courtesy of otherwise forgotten maternal ancestors. Her journey is not to find a stable identity in ancestral roots but to confront notions of stability, identity, ethnicity and nationalism in one of their great mythic sources. A Book of Migrations is a postcolonial revision of conventional travel literature. In her passage through Ireland, Rebecca Solnit portrays in microcosm a history made of great human tides of invasion, colonization, emigration, nomadism and tourism. Travel itself produces its own versions of memory and identity, and travel's transformation into the information age's pre-eminent industry -- tourism -- comes under close scrutiny. It is no accident that her journey culminates in an encounter with the Travellers, the indigenous nomads of contemporary Ireland. Enriched by cross-cultural comparisons with the history of the American West, A Book of Migrations carves a new route through Ireland's history, literature and landscape. Rich with historical reflections -- including fine essays on Roger Casement and Jonathan Swift, the Dublin Natural History Museum and the disappearance of Ireland's forests -- the book combines the virtues of the finest travel writing with a critical acuity.

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A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland

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Though the scenario is familiar--an American with Irish ancestry travels to Ireland to explore her roots and her identity--this book is not typical. The essays here have a more intellectual bent; the ... Read full review

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Section 1
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Section 7
Section 8
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17

Section 9
Section 18

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About the author (1997)

Rebecca Solnit is author of, among other books, Wanderlust, A Book of Migrations, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, the NBCC award-winning River of Shadows and A Paradise Built In Hell. A contributing editor to Harper's, she writes regularly for the London Review of Books and the Los Angeles Times. She lives in San Francisco.

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