Anxiety and liminality in the autobiographical work of Hugo Hamilton

Manuela Graf


The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between the long-term liminal state, implied by the notion of “liminal identity” as defined by Tomasz Ferenc, and anxiety in German-Irish migration literature. Hugo Hamilton’s autobiographical works: The Speckled People: A Memory of a Half-Irish Childhood and The Sailor in the Wardrobe serve as exemplifying material. The subjective experiences of the subject juxtaposed with the accounts of his relatives are analysed in terms of the causes and consequences of his inability to cross the liminal threshold. The author concludes that the source of the anxiety appearing in Hugo Hamilton’s works is – on the one hand – a existence “in between” cultures and an inability to develop an individual cultural identity, and, on the other hand, a complicated relationship with his father who imposes on the protagonist a specific understanding of an existence in the space “in between”.


liminality, 'in-between' space, migration literature, multiculturality, Hugo Hamilton


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Graf, M. (2023). Anxiety and liminality in the autobiographical work of Hugo Hamilton. Transfer. Reception Studies, 8, 167–183.


Manuela Graf


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