Spectral voices in “Thirteen Ways of Looking” (Colum McCann, 2015)

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Marion Bourdeau


Colum McCann’s 2015 novella “Thirteen Ways of Looking” is haunted by a vast spectrum of questions, realities and possibilities but, perhaps most importantly, by a multiplicity of voices – a term which is used with a broad definition here. This paper focuses on these voices, trying to work out their natures, specificities and functions in the production and the reception of the text. Memories and references to Irish culture, geography and language, as well as the echoes they find in other traditions, are subterranean elements that regularly surface in the narrative, as do intertextual references; close attention is therefore paid to the links between what is intertextual and what is spectral. This article analyses the repercussions of these intrusions of spectral elements on the narrative and the narrative voice, all the while considering whether this ghost-like presence is stifling or invigorating for the reader’s reception of this text, but also for the writer, his novella, and his contribution to the Irish literary scene.

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How to Cite
Bourdeau, M. . (2021). Spectral voices in “Thirteen Ways of Looking” (Colum McCann, 2015). Imaginaires, (23), 145-166. https://doi.org/10.34929/imaginaires.vi23.15
Author Biography

Marion Bourdeau, Université Caen Normandie

Marion Bourdeau, agrégée in English studies, teaches at the University of Lyon 3. She completed a PhD in Irish Studies at the University of Caen Normandy under the supervision of Professor Bertrand Cardin. Her research focuses on contemporary Irish literature and stylistics, and in particular on the writing of space and ethics in Colum McCann’s fiction.