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Scholarcast 48: Everybody Speaks: Utopia and Polyphony in The Commitments

Kevin Power


Fredric Jameson proposes that a “utopia” is a political idea that hopes to transcend, or exist outside, politics, but that must, inevitably, begin inside politics – at “the moment of the suspension of the political,” the political must inevitably return. This holds true for the utopian imagined community – a “Dublin soul band” – proposed and tested in Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments. If the imagined community represented by the band is haunted by the inevitable return of the political, the novel nonetheless embodies a utopia of speech – a Bakhtinian polyphony in which no one voice is figured as the privileged arbiter of meaning. To speak, in The Commitments, is to be heard - but it is also immediately to be challenged, shouted down, made fun of, contested. Roddy Doyle’s commitment to the principle of chorality enables him to address troubling and profound questions (about class, identity, and political possibility) in rich and suggestive ways.

Kevin Power

Kevin Power is currently Creative Writing Fellow at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. He is the author of a novel, Bad Day in Blackrock (2008), and the winner of the 2009 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and the 2009 Hennessy XO Award for Emerging Fiction. His short fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Hennessy New Irish Writing, RTE Radio 1, New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2011), and The Sunday Business Post. In 2014 he completed a PhD at University College Dublin on the fiction and nonfiction of Norman Mailer. He writes regularly for The Sunday Business Post.


Series edited by: Derek Hand
General Editor: P.J. Mathews
Scholarcast original theme music by: Padhraic Egan, Michael Hussey and Sharon Hussey.
Recording, audio editing, photography, video and development by: John Matthews, Vincent Hoban, Brian Kelly & Ken Doyle at UCD Media Services.

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