The Will to Forget: Nation and Forgetting in Ulysses

  • Vincent J. Cheng
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


This chapter begins with a discussion of Ernest Renan’s influential 1882 lecture “What Is a Nation?” and its argument for the importance of national forgetting to the peace and unity of a nation-state, and then focuses on one particular literary case study, Joyce’s treatments of these issues in Ulysses. The second half of this chapter continues pursuing the complex realities of national “memory” and the nation-state—by considering the role of “place” and “space” in Irish memory and the Irish national imaginary through a series of controversies about the nature of “Irishness” and the Irish nation, from the eighteenth century to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.


Forgetting Memory Nation Nostalgia Place Ulysses Renan Anderson Joyce 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent J. Cheng
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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