Reimagining the Past

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No Irish man of letters is able to escape crisis in Irish history. As a country beset by colonisation, famines, social and political unrest, and bloody sectarian conflict, Ireland remains a gothic place, haunted by dark memories and traumatic experiences. Contemporary Irish Revisionist historians and men of letters believe that the Irish nationalists were responsible for prolonging the violence in their country during the twentieth century, in part by using history to serve their political agenda of an independent nation. As a result, new attempts to approach Irish history from a different perspective have been made by the so-called “Revisionists,” who try to deconstruct traditional representations of this history in literature and historical records, especially in post-independence times. Instead of mythologising Irish history, Revisionists present it in the form of an unavoidable nightmarish cycle to help readers see this reality and recover from the trauma of the past. John Banville’s “Birchwood” will be analysed from this viewpoint since it was written during turbulent times when Ireland witnessed sectarian conflict in the north.