Cover of Siobhra Aiken: Spiritual Wounds

Siobhra Aiken Spiritual Wounds

Trauma, Testimony and the Irish Civil War

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Irish Academic Press


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This book challenges the widespread scholarly and popular belief that the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) was followed by a 'traumatic silence'. It achieves this by opening an alternative archive of published testimonies which were largely produced in the 1920s and 1930s; testimonies were written by pro- and anti-treaty men and women, in both English and Irish. Nearly all have eluded sustained scholarly attention to date. However, the act of smuggling private, painful experience into the public realm, especially when it challenged official memory making (or even forgetting), demanded the cautious deployment of self-protective narrative strategies. As a result, many testimonies from the Irish Civil War emerge in non-conventional, hybridised and fictionalised forms of life writing. This book re-introduces a number of these testimonies into public debate. It considers contemporary understandings of mental illness and how a number of veterans - both men and women - self-consciously engaged in projects of therapeutic writing as a means to 'heal' the 'spiritual wounds' of civil war. It also outlines the prevalence of literary representations of revolutionary sexual violence, challenging the assumptions that sexual violence during the Irish revolution was either 'rare' or 'hidden'.

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