Film and Filmmaking in Returned Yank Fictions of the Troubles
This chapter examines fictional Returned Yanks – notably in Julia O’Faolain’s No Country for Young Men (1980), Benedict Kiely’s Nothing Happens in Carmincross (1985) and Roddy Doyle’s The Dead Republic (2010) – who become involved in and/or comment on the Northern Irish ‘Troubles.’ This conflict, through its resurgence in the late 1960s, challenged optimistic and prematurely celebratory attitudes towards Irish modernisation that claimed that nationalism and ‘atavistic’ ideological attachments would disappear through the modernisation process. However, an understanding of nationalism that sees insurgency as antithetical to modernity is fallacious for, as Benedict Anderson argued so influentially in Imagined Communities (1983), nationalism is a product of modernity. Many Troubles narratives feature Irish Americans whose parents or grandparents were involved in the nationalist struggle in the 1920s and who retain a recalcitrant commitment to the ideal of a united Ireland. In narratives of the Troubles, then, the Returned Yank is a kind of revenant or ghost from a past which the southern state – whose authority was profoundly undermined in the 1970s and 1980s by Northern republican challenges to its legitimacy – wishes to disavow.
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