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Mark Gilbert

The year 2004 was a crucial one for the European Union (EU) and an

important one for Italy’s policy toward European integration. As the

rhetoric surrounding the signature of the EU constitution in Rome dies

down, the time is ripe for a preliminary analysis of Italy’s strategy and

tactics during the complex negotiations carried on during the Irish

presidency of the EU in the first six months of 2004 and of Italy’s overall

approach to European questions in the year as a whole. Inevitably,

this analysis can only be provisional in character. The task of providing

a final assessment of the aims and objectives of the Berlusconi

government will fall to a future generation of diplomatic historians.

Nevertheless, a broad generalization about Italy’s European policy in

2004 can already be made. The Berlusconi government, which has

often been accused of a degree of ambivalence toward the European

project, seemingly did attempt to “return, free from the responsibilities

of the presidency, to reaffirming the most advanced European

principles.” More pragmatically, it also strove hard to reassert Italy’s

place as a country that counts within the newly enlarged union.

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Editorial

Anglo-Irish Writing

Eibhlín Evans

In this issue of Critical Survey we present a selection of essays which demonstrate a range of critical approaches to a variety of material within Anglo-Irish writing. The recalcitrant traditionalism that previously marked this arena has long gone, replaced now by a broadly analytical approach. Likewise, the traditionally established and highly selective, mostly male canon of Anglo-Irish writing has been replaced by a more inclusive arena and these articles represent the diversity of scholarship and research across this expanded area. One of the most significant changes within Anglo-Irish criticism in the last decade has been in the volume of attention given to women writers. Several essays here focus on women’s writing, recognising Irish women writers’ legitimate inclusion across a range of genres. Kathy Cremin examines the disparity between Irish women’s increased opportunities in terms of determining their own lives and the elisions and ambivalences regarding these at the heart of Patricia Scanlan’s best-selling fiction. Helen Kidd explores the particular poetic strategies of three of Ireland’s leading women poets, Naula Ní Dhomhnaill, Eileán Ní Chuilleanain and Eavan Boland. Mary King couples the plays of J. M. Synge and one of Ireland’s leading contemporary playwrights, Marina Carr, in a timely exploration of the treatment of ‘the other’ in Irish drama.

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'Both in Men's Clothing'

Gender, Sovereignty and Insecurity in Richard Marsh's The Beetle

Victoria Margree

On its publication in 1897 Richard Marsh’s The Beetle was more popular than Dracula. However, in the latter part of the twentieth century its popularity with both readers and critics waned, and it is only now that Marsh’s story of the Egyptian beetle-creature seeking vengeance on a British politician is attracting renewed critical interest. It is not my intention here to take serious issue with any of these important and revealing critical discussions, which variously explore the novel in terms of fears over ‘reverse colonisation’; depictions of the ‘abhumanness’ of the female body; and cultural debates on the nature and significance of trance-states. Rather, I wish to open up discussion of the novel by identifying some of the important and peculiar features of this – admittedly very peculiar – novel, that have not so far received the attention they deserve. These thus-far critically neglected features include: the significance of the opening chapters’ emphases upon vagrancy and destitution; the novel’s exploration of ‘political authority’ and its ambivalence towards its central male character, the liberal politician; and the representation of the New Woman. More specifically I wish to investigate the historical and ideological motivations for what I consider to be the novel’s conflation of its New Woman character with the figure of the emasculated and vagrant clerk.

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Bodil Formark and Annelie Bränström Öhman

While we have been working on this themed issue the political talk about The Girl has entered a new phase in a global shift manifested both by the establishment of the International Day of the Girl and through the launching of various campaigns on themes such as: Give Girls an Education and Eradicate World Poverty. The necessity for such initiatives was cruelly illustrated by the violent attack on Pakistani girls’ rights activist Malala Yousafzai on her way home from school on 9 October 2012. Such blatant discrimination makes it difficult for us not to feel that we live in a privileged part of the world. The five Nordic nation states—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden—are indeed often perceived by outsiders, too, as progressive countries that have come very far in achieving gender equality. However, although Nordic girlhood may appear in stark contrast to that of the millions of disadvantaged girls in the world, there are complexities and ambivalences beneath the surface of Nordic progressiveness that a reductive, comparative, and linear, framework fails to take into account.

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Michael D. Picone

Initially, being mass produced and sequential, comic art was excluded from fine art museums. Some comics artists themselves have expressed ambivalence about the value of inclusion (but counter-arguments are proposed, challenging the perception of incompatibility). However, a pivotal element in the break from the ranks of artistic modernism has been the appropriation of comic art motifs for use in museum-grade pop art, figuration narrative and their successors. In counterpoint, comic art is replete with examples of museum art being appropriated in order to obtain diegetic enrichment of various sorts, either for the purpose of parody or in relation to plot construction. Against this backdrop, and abetted by the twin challenge that art museums are facing to remain relevant and to increase revenue, a game-changing development is afoot, leading to a co-operative re-positioning of art museums and comics artists. With the Louvre taking the lead, many art museums in France and Italy are now commissioning works of comic art based on the museum's own collections, often launched with companion exhibits. The resultant 'art within art' lends itself readily to rich experimentation with themes incorporating intertextuality and parallel narrative.

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Mark Solomon

'The Praise of Silence' is a reflection on silence in the face of the mystery of the divine, and on divine and human silence in the face of suffering and evil, as well as on the author's own ambivalence about silence. It begins by considering three traditional translations of Psalm 65:2: 'Praise is fitting for You, O God, In Zion', 'Praise waits for You, O God, in Zion' and the Targum's interpretation, 'To You silence is praise, O God, in Zion'. The last of these is the main focus of this article. Rashi explains the verse in two ways: firstly, the futility of multiplying words in praise of God, so that the best praise is silence. The roots of this doctrine lie in a Talmudic story, paralleled by a saying of Jesus and by teachings in other religious and philosophical systems, both Eastern and Western. The via negativa of Maimonides is the most powerful expression of this in Judaism. Rashi's second interpretation shifts the focus from human to divine silence, and suggests that God is to be praised for remaining silent in the face of the destruction of the Temple and the blasphemy of the wicked. This derives from a passage in Midrash Tehillim which culminates with the Psalmist's own commitment to stay silent in the face of suffering, a stance which is in tension with the moral imperative of speaking out in the face of evil. This imperative is expressed both by the mediaeval poet who rebukes God's silence in the face of Crusader atrocities, and by the motto of 1980s AIDS activism: Silence = Death. The third part of the article looks at another difficult Talmudic passage which contrasts the silence enforced by human tyranny with the voluntary silence of those who suffer at the hand of God. Two contrasting stories in the Talmud have God, on the one hand, commanding Moses to be silent in the face of the inscrutable divine will, and on the other hand, to speak out in aid of God's work. In conclusion, there is 'a time to be silent' in the face of mysteries beyond our grasp, but 'a time to speak' when we must protest against human evil and end avoidable suffering.

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Jack Hunter, Annelin Eriksen, Jon Mitchell, Mattijs van de Port, Magnus Course, Nicolás Panotto, Ruth Barcan, David M. R. Orr, Girish Daswani, Piergiorgio Di Giminiani, Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Sofía Ugarte, Ryan J. Cook, Bettina E. Schmidt and Mylene Mizrahi

Union, and Macedonia. Lois Lee demonstrates how, in the UK, ambivalence and indifference toward religion might be seen as concrete forms of self-identification, but play out differently for diverse social groups, depending on their relative power and