Anomalous States is an archeology of modern Irish writing. David Lloyd commences with recent questioning of Irish identity in the wake of the northern conflict and returns to the complex terrain of nineteenth-century culture in which those questions of identity were first formed.
In five linked essays, he explores modern Irish literature and its political contexts through the work of four Irish writers-Heaney, Beckett, Yeats, and Joyce. Beginning with Heaney and Beckett, Lloyd shows how in these authors the question of identity connects with the dominance of conservative cultural nationalism and argues for the need to understand Irish culture in relation to the wider experience of colonized societies.
A central essay reads Yeats's later works as a profound questioning of the founding of the state.
Final essays examine the gradual formation of the state and nation as one element in a cultural process that involves conflict between popular cultural forms and emerging political economies of nationalism and the colonial state.
Modern Ireland is thus seen as the product of a continuing process in which, Lloyd argues, the passage to national independence that defines Ireland's post-colonial status is no more than a moment in its continuing history. Anomalous States makes an important contribution to the growing body of work that connects cultural theory with post-colonial historiography, literary analysis, and issues in contemporary politics.
It will interest a wide readership in literary studies, cultural studies, anthropology, and history.