'False, fleeting, perjured Clarence': pseudonymity and criminality in the writings of James Clarence Mangan

Sinead Sturgeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article explores the significance of the adopted partial pseudonym “Clarence” to James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849), who is increasingly regarded as the most important Irish poet before W. B. Yeats. Tracing the literary history of “Clarence” from Shakespeare to Maria Edgeworth, this essay argues that the intriguing adoption exposes a preoccupation with themes of unlawful textual copying that is at the centre of Mangan’s imagination. These tropes assume singular significance when appreciated alongside Mangan’s profession as a scrivener. While literary criticism has separated Mangan the poet from Mangan the legal scribe, his hitherto under-explored assumption of “Clarence” provides a clue to their close and crucial connection. These themes of pseudonymity, copying, and criminality combine with particular resonance in his quasi-translation “The Man in the Cloak” (1838) to open up new perspectives on Mangan’s writing and its participation in wider European cultural contexts and concerns. The essay will conclude with a salient comparison of Mangan’s story with Nikolay Gogol’s seminal story “The Overcoat”, or, “The Cloak” (1842).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-99
Number of pages24
JournalCanadian Journal of Irish Studies
Volume36
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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