A sunny day is probably one of the most beautiful things on earth, but it would not hold a candle to you my love. It is tinged with mortality and imperfection. You are the epitome of beauty and clemency.Even the best days of the summer are marred by the blustery winds which detach the wonderful May blossoms. Just walk under a cherry tree and you see a carpet of blossoms lying there like potpourri. Summer is a capricious tenant. It is ephemeral and even at its height, it is still is fatally flawed. Even those balmy days can be too excessive and we can be sunburned, even if we are wearing sun protection. Its golden hue can become tarnished because of unreliable weather and the whims of the season. The summer, sandwiched between spring and autumn is at the mercy of the changing seasons.
But you will not be bound by the transience of seasons. You will be forever young. You will not be dragged down to Hades like poor Persephone, to wander in eternal darkness. I have immortalised you in this sonnet, and ever reading and recitation guarantees everlasting life to you.
The Great Gatsbyby F.Scott Fitzgerald has contemporary relevance, in the sense that the protagonist Gatsby embodies the tragedy of holding on too long too the one dream, and not caring who or what has to be sacrificed in its fulfilment. This kind of mindless greed and materialism, or in Fitzgerald's words' "the foul dust", has polluted modern society, in the same way that Gatsby is destroyed by blind obsession. Without the checks and balances of compassion and integrity we have created an avaricious world where as Gordon Gekko says in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps", "greed is good and now it seems, it's legal." In the crazy days before the bubble burst, banks were lending money they did not have to people who could not pay it back. Now there is talk of taking on the greedy bankers and curbing their excesses and of creating a climate of austerity. It seems like a knee jerk reaction, going from one extreme to the other and the news is awash with the discourse of cuts and cheese-paring after the years of prodigality. The question to be asked is who must bear the brunt of the cuts, students, mothers and the vulnerable?
So can anyone achieve their dream in a world of mindless greed? Is all greed bad and does it act as a kind of Midas, destroying everyone it touches. At the end ofThe Great GatsbyGatsby is destroyed by the foul dust that preyed upon him. Tom and Daisy Buchanan, the careless people have destroyed him, and they move on and leave the hero to perish. The notion of the romantic Gatsby, in his pink suit, maintaining his lonely vigil in Daisy's garden after the car accident, has haunted the American psyche. In the library rotunda of Bill Gate's $100 million mansion the words fromThe Great Gatsby are engraved which read, "He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his gdream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it." Maybe the American dream is not so intangible after all. Or perhaps it is can only be achieved in cyberspace.
So why did Gatsby have to be sacrificed to the American dream? When we see him as a young James Gatz, before his re-invention of himself, working as a clam digger or salmon fisher on the south shore of Lake Superior, "his heart was in a constant turbulent riot." Like money, Gatz could not sleep and each night he "added to the pattern of his fancies until drowisness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace." The rock on which he founded his dream proved to be no more than a "fairy's wing". Dan Cody, his mentor, a product of the frontier brothel and saloon, was a "pioneer debauchee". With Dan as a role model, Gatsby embraced the life of swindler, a bootlegger and finally dealing in forged bonds. Using the money from his ill gotten gains, he is able to put substance to his 'fairy' dream when he purchases his mansion in East Egg, a huge house, modelled on a Hotel de Ville in Normandy. The stage is set for the realisation of his goal in life, namely winning back the love of his life Daisy Buchanan.
As he makes nervous circuits while waiting for Daisy to arrive in chapter five, we get the impression that he is he insecure about meeting her again. He has crafted everything so carefully and he cannot bear the thought of his plan backfiring. There is a moment in their reunion which is almost transcendent. The prose becomes pure as Gatsby re-evaluates everything in his mansion through Daisy's eyes. We are treated the sensuality of the the "jonquils, and the frothy odour of hawthorn and plum blossoms and the pale gold odour of kiss-me-at-the gate." When he displays his fine array of shirts, they are described in lavish prose:
Shirts of fine sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel...shirts with stripes and scrolls, and plaids in applegreen and lavender and faint orange with monograms of Indian blue.
Daisy weeps because she has never seen such beautiful shirts before. This is one of the most poignant scenes between Gatsby and Daisy. As the plot unfolds, the dream unravels and turns septic. Daisy and Gatsby never regain the intimacy and perhaps innocence of this scene and their liaison becomes increasingly paltry. Even Nick, the loyal narrator points challenges his obsession with repeating the past, by re-igniting the passion that was between them when they met five years previously.
As Gatsby hurtles towards annihilation, his dream fragments bit by bit. He cannot re-create the past, instead the flame that he has ignited to attract Daisy, becomes the incendiary which consumes him. Gatsby is finished, bankrolled, his dream bankrupt. But Fitzgerald provokes us with the haunting words, "tomorrow we will run farther, stretch out our arms further." Although Gatsby could not repeat the past, we "beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." Yes,The Great Gatsbyresonates with the twenty-first century.We are all caught up in our dreams and get-rich schemes and live out our lives between cycles of boom and bust.
"Women’sSevententh Century Drama" andmy second book, "Warrior Lover, Fighting Side by Side to the Death: Representations of War in Female-authored Contemporary Irish Drama" are currently with my publishers.
"Women’s War Drama in England in the Seventeenth Century" was published at the end of December 2008 by Cambria Press. This book establishes a model for women’s war drama.This has not been done in other books and therefore this book makes an innovative and significant contribution to academic research. For details or to read a sample click here http://www.cambriapress.com/cambriapress.cfm?templ
I will also publish some articles based on my research in Early Modern journals, and will deliver conference papers both in UK and America.
My main research interests are women’s war drama, tragicomedy and romance genres, closet dramas, performed and unperformed work and Early Modern translation strategies. I am also interested in feminist historicist theory and its application to Early Modern literature.
Forthcoming Book Project
The Sonnet: From Shakespeare to Seamus Heaney.
Creative Writers Networkwill coordinate a number of public events, working with the users of the Belfast Central Library. We will provide Shalom Writers’ group, who meet there, with facilitators to produce writing related to the building and its history. This will result in a public reading on March 26th where some of the writing will be performed.Throughout March, bestselling crime writer Sam Millar, will be ‘writer in residence’. Sam, who grew up in the area, will spend 20 hours in the library, creating and collecting stories, engaging with public and staff and holding a reading for an invited audience of BELB reading groups from other branches.
The entire project will be supported with a post card campaign to market and provide a platform for the collection of stories. An exhibition will be held in the library during Cathedral Quarter Festival early in May including the visual art created during the project, historical library materials and collected writing. Materials will also be on digital display in Central library and shared amongst branches. The final project anthology will be produced in hard back with a limited run of 100.
"We Want Meat and Clothes!”
Female community in the aftermath of the English Civil War in Margaret Cavendish’s The Sociable Companions or the Female Wits (1668) and a consideration of female community in Northern Ireland during the ‘troubles’ and in the present post-war situation.
"Performing the Peace Process in Anne Devlin’s AfterEaster".
This paper explores Anne Devlin’s representationof the peace process in Anne Devlin’s After Easterwhich was first performed in 1994 in Strafford. In this year, there were very significant events which led up the Good Friday Agreement which was implemented in 1998. The initiative to achieve peace was called the “Irish Peace Process” and although there had been many phases in the process, the decision by the IRA to cease all military action on 31st August 1994, most certainly marked the beginning of a new phase in the peace negotiations. When Devlin wrote After Easter, she was aware of the huge possibilities for change in the Northern Ireland that were created by the ceasefires. (April 2008)
Working Group Submission. (UCD 2008)
"Gender and national identity in Christina Reid’s The Belle of Belfast City".
Through the characterization of the three generations of women, Reid skillfully demonstrates that the conflict in Northern Ireland cannot be simplified into a religious war between the Protestant and Catholic communities. Cultural identities are more complex; within the Protestant community there are dissenting voices, which question the extremist viewpoints.
"Belfast: A City Divided: Representations of Division and Conflict in Drama inspired by the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland".
Sept: 2008: University of Strathclyde:The Strathclyde Conflict and Resolution (SCAR) group is hosting a two-day interdisciplinary conference on conflict, terror and resolution.
'My voice has come back to me. After all these years. From the night it left me in Exmoor and I died. Tonight it came back.’
Landscapes of the Traumatic Sublime in Anne Devlin’s After Easter. TRAUMA & THE SUBLIME
An International Interdisciplinary Conference: Swansea University on 6th – 8th August 2008)
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.' Translation strategies in Katherine Philips’ Pompey.
(Forthcoming: Queen’s University, Belfast. Text and Context: Bringing Early Modern Literature and Linguistics Together 14 to 15 November 2008)
The Chuckle Sisters From Page to Stage.
(Forthcoming: GREAT WRITING The International Creative Writing Conference: University of Bangor 19th-21st June 2009)