Postcards from the Old Country: Finessing the Landscape to Fit our Fables

Ceri Price


This paper concerns the fictions of our lives and takes as its text the picture postcard – that often overlooked, near bygone, landscape object. In particular, I focus on the innovative work of John Hinde and his highly choreographed postcard images of the 1960s. I begin with an examination of the popular appeal of Hinde’s cards and show how he transformed the visual tropes of the postcard from the almost-present reality of his fellow publishers to his own trademark hyper-coloured, just-past, comforting fictive spaces.  I then look at a subset of Hinde’s Irish postcards and show how these reproductions of a longed for, but never-present, ancestral homeland resonated with the counterfactual personal stories passed down the generations of diasporic descendants across the water. I demonstrate how, unlike geographies of fiction where the stories emerge from the landscape, Hinde manipulated geospace to bring forth a landscape from the stories. By extending this simplistic distinction, I conclude that the resulting fictive vision of the Old Country, scripted by the family fables, enabled diasporic descendants to define and refine their hyphenated cultural identities back in the realities of the New World. I end by identifying a complex web of relational imperatives in which the postcard is entangled and show how an apparently simple image is thus enmeshed in a palimpsest of meanings from the personal to the global.


Picture postcard; John Hinde; diasporic identities

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