Under the Southern Cross: The Story of Irish-Argentine Literature

Cathal Patrick Pratt, Fordham University


This dissertation examines Irish-Argentine literature, beginning with its origins in 19th century travel literature and short fiction and charts its course until the early 21st century. Drawing from primary sources, human geography, interviews, personal letters, critical essays and more, the project crafts a narrative detailing the formation of the Irish-Argentine literature as a distinct genre, its reception by Irish and Argentine authors respectively, and its eventual assimilation into the Argentine national style through Borges’s model for establishing a national literature. The work argues that following the establishment of the Irish state and assimilation of Irish-Argentines into the general Argentine population, Irish-Argentine literature as a genre began to flag, but survives on in the general Argentine style. Chapter one includes an examination of William Bulfin and the influence of modernity on Irish immigrants to Argentina and their successes, their benefitting from the growing Argentine state, and the creation of the explicitly nationalist and republican identity of the Irish-Argentine. This section features a close examination of Irish interest periodicals, short fiction, and travel-writing, including: The Southern Cross, Tales from the Pampas, and Rambles in Erinn. Chapter two is largely an extended look at James Joyce’s “Eveline” with an updated reading that takes into account common knowledge of Argentina at the time and Passionist theology. Chapter three narrates Borges’s troubled relationship with gauchesque literature and the later works of Joyce, and ties both into his development of ideas regarding a national Argentine literature. This chapter features in-depth readings of several short stories, including: “Funes the Memorious,” “The Shape of the Sword,” and “The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero.” The extended conclusion recounts the decline of the Irish-Argentine into a symbolic rather than literary presence, while providing contemporary examples. It also looks at Irish authors’ current re-engagement with Argentine literature and South America in general.

Subject Area

British and Irish literature|Latin American literature|Comparative literature

Recommended Citation

Pratt, Cathal Patrick, "Under the Southern Cross: The Story of Irish-Argentine Literature" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28718196.