The English have a phrase 'past history', meaning something that's settled, or that we're prepared to forget. A whole world of security lies behind that little phrase. A nation with a different history couldn't have invented it. In the face of oppression, a consciousness forms in which there is only present history. Where identity is threatened, its continuity becomes crucial. This comes over very clearly in Eilis Dillon's Irish novel Across the Bitter Sea….
The early chapters of the novel have an authentic documentary power, but as the network of relationships spreads through the second and third generations, the whole structure begins irresistibly, and incongruously, to suggest a Fenian...
(The entire section is 458 words.)