Recessive Action in Colm Tóibín’s "Brooklyn"

  • Camelia Raghinaru Concordia University, Irvine
Keywords: Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn, immigration, detachment, minimal realization


Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel Brooklyn accompanies Eilis Lacey, a native of Enniscorthy, Ireland of the 1950s on a reluctant voyage across the Atlantic. Her passage reconstructs a common experience of immigration and exile to New York for the Irish working class seeking to escape the lack of prospects in small-town Ireland after the Second World War. Caught as she is between two homes—the traditional Irish culture she emerges from and the new capitalist society of America to which she emigrates—Eilis is placed in a polemical relationship to the public sphere, staked on multiple grounds of in-betweenness: she is a woman, Irish, and an exile. Belonging, for her, is posited on a complex understanding of the tensions between national and transnational identities. Eilis’s parochialism, at first, and cosmopolitanism, later on, are both decisive characteristics that become driving forces behind her social integration and marriage prospects. She is initially barred from promising job and marriage opportunities due to her naivety and lack of sophistication. As an Irish female immigrant, Eilis becomes in the course of the novel a cosmopolitan from the margins, one of the newly uprooted, and ultimately a split self.


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Author Biography

Camelia Raghinaru, Concordia University, Irvine

Camelia Raghinaru holds a PhD in English from the University of Florida, and she currently works as Associate Professor of English at Concordia University Irvine. Her research interests focus on utopian studies, modernism, and popular culture. Her articles on Conrad, Lawrence, Joyce, Woolf, and Bréton have been published in various academic journals (Studies in the Novel, [sic], Forum, etc.) and edited collections (Great War Modernism and Critical Approaches to Joseph Conrad). Currently she works on a book project focused on periodizing modernism.


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How to Cite
Raghinaru, C. (2018). Recessive Action in Colm Tóibín’s "Brooklyn". Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (8), 43-54.