Ghosts on the Water: Marina Carr’s reception of the Classical Underworld in her Midland Trilogy


bogMarina Carr is heralded as one of Ireland’s foremost contemporary playwrights. Her plays frequently reflect Irish domestic life, while drawing on the motifs of ancient Greek mythology and culture. In her article for the new issue of the Postgraduate English journal, Madeleine Scherer (University of Warwick) takes a closer look at her Midland Trilogy, and explores the way it is haunted by the classical past.

This article discusses the use of classical sources in Marina Carr’s Midland Trilogy, including The Mai, Portia Coughlain and By the Bog of Cats. It analyses Carr’s construction of the Irish Midlands out of features from an anachronistically authentic Ireland, intermingled with features of the classical underworld. The Mai is seen as a re-figuration of the Odyssey, while Portia Coughlain adapts Electra and By the Bog of Cats reconstructs Medea. Within these adaptations, this article reads Carr’s establishment of a cyclical time of endless repetitions through Derrida’s hauntology, wherein the silence of the ghosts echoes the inexpressible elements within history itself through which the past attempts to coexist with the living.

This article is freely available in the new issue of Postgraduate English, one of the UK’s leading journals publishing literary research by postgraduates. The Call for Papers for the next issue is now out, and all postgraduates or early-career researchers are invited to contribute.

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