Historical, theoretical, and critical styles come together in The Present Lasts a Long Time: Essays in Cultural Politics by Francis Mulhern. The preoccupation of this collection is with the relationship between politics and culture, including the idea of cultural politics itself. Diverse in occasion and manner, these essays span the past hundred years and focus on Britain, Ireland, Europe, and the United States.
The Present of the title is a complex historical situation, not a point in time and space. The topics through which the author explores it include the record and prospects of Marxist literary theory, the ethics and politics of European and U.S. intelligentsia, the social dynamics of English literary and cultural studies, and the debates within Socialist thought at the dawn of a new millennium.
Questions of nationality come to the fore in a cluster of essays on Englishness, translation and European integration, and two interventions in Ireland’s Field Day controversy. A long opening essay elicits the most general themes of the collection—historical time, cultures of intellectual life, and cultural politics—and then draws them into a series of reflections on Ireland: the North in the sixties, the left and the national question in the following decades, and the deceptive course of modernity in the South since independence.
The Present Lasts a Long Time addresses the debate on cultural politics and the nation-state, and is for readers interested in cultural theory and criticism, Marxism, and contemporary British and Irish politics and culture.