Rewriting the Western: Transnational Dimensions and Gender Fluidity in Sebastian Barry’s Days without End
The present essay will explore the Irish writer Sebastian Barry’s transnational rendering of the American West in his novel Days without End (2016), emphasizing his representation of neglected western questions and realities and his revision of traditional western tropes and archetypes. Barry’s approach to the American West in Days without End moves beyond the regional and national imagery of this territory, revealing its international and hybrid properties and its multiple and overlapping cultures. It is argued that Barry’s recreation of a different reality from the traditional western monomyth of masculinity, individualism, and Anglo-American conquest allows him to challenge classical frontier narratives and to address international and transcultural issues, such as gender fluidity. The novel, whose main protagonist and narrator is a poor, homosexual Irish immigrant, embraces a different West, questioning romanticized versions of the westward expansion and drawing interesting connections between the Irish immigrants in this region and the Native Americans. Overall, Days without End may be viewed as an acute depiction of the transnational dimension of the American West, proving the power of the Western to overcome its traditional formulaic and mythic boundaries and to travel across global spaces.