gaff topsail

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  • noun

Synonyms for gaff topsail

a triangular fore-and-aft sail with its foot along the gaff and its luff on the topmast

References in periodicals archive ?
The readings by Fowler, Delisle, and Holmgren represent almost all of the scholarly attention given to Kavanagh's novel and are the only published articles to focus solely on Gaff Topsails. It is the purpose of this paper to engage these articles in a meaningful discussion of Gaff Topsails and examine a little further this important and woefully under-analyzed text.
Towards contextualizing Gaff Topsails and this reading of it, it is best first to revisit Mathews's identification of an interesting binary found in Newfoundland literature and literary criticism.
Perhaps Gaff Topsails and River Thieves can be understood as continuing the debate between Tomorrow Will Be Sunday and Random Passage on the one hand and House of Hate and The Afterlife of George Cartwright on the other: the (naively?) idealized possibility, presented as tantalizingly actual, as opposed to the unsentimentally and uncompromisingly explored darker side of their society's collective psyche.
Whereas Fowler and Holmgren consider many aspects and sections of Gaff Topsails, Delisle's analysis is less a reading of Kavanagh's novel and more an exploration of one chapter, "The Kingdom of God." This chapter abandons the narrative present of the novel and recounts the impossible, mythic, archetypal life of Tomas Croft, the outport's founding father and, as Fowler puts it, "spirit of the place" (Fowler 80).
While Delisle's concerns are important ones, it seems rather unlikely that in writing Gaff Topsails Kavanagh was preoccupied with either capturing "factual legitimacy" or perpetuating "a larger continuous narrative." More likely, Kavanagh is interested in simultaneously acknowledging that these myths, legends, and histories comprise a sort of cultural truth about Newfoundland while compartmentalizing them as separate from a Newfoundland reality as only the smallest and non-defining part of an ever-evolving, ever-elusive Newfoundland character.
In an interview discussing Gaff Topsails, Sandra Gwyn notes how "The Kingdom of God" stands apart from the rest of the novel and asks Kavanagh why he wrote a chapter that "re-invents Newfoundland's history and geography in a sweeping, imaginative, and rather subversive way" (Gwyn).
Cutting the "continuous thread of time" in Gaff Topsails
All three critics of Gaff Topsails make the claim that Kavanagh fashions an unbroken cultural and historical narrative that connects Tomas Croft to his descendants of the narrative present.
None of the critics considers the context in which the passage appears, yet consideration of this context must be central to the discussion of Gaff Topsails as a mythologizing or primitivizing novel.
Fowler makes much of the readers point of view in his analysis of Gaff Topsails, claiming the reader has a "historical perspective" absent "in the world view of the characters in the novel" (Fowler 81).
Thus, in Gaff Topsails, as a train barrels through the night, Michael Barron, a teenager on the cusp of manhood who has this day (and presumably many days before) been building the courage to declare his heretofore unexpressed love for 16-year-old Mary Dwyer, steps with purpose into the night and towards the communal bonfire where he knows he will find the object of his affections.
If Kavanagh's purpose in Gaff Topsails is, as Delisle claims (citing Stuart Hall), to create a Newfoundland people "lost in the mists of, not 'real,' but 'mythic' time," or if it is, as Fowler and Holmgren claim, to present his contemporary characters as more fabled than factual, why does he ground them in the reality of the modern world through their knowledgeable interaction with the train (Delisle 23)?
missing in [their] lives" but by a radical caesura Kavanagh crafts between Tomas's chapter and the rest of the narrative, which, in particular, problematizes one of Delisle's major criticisms of Gaff Topsails (81).
She delivers this final blow by comparing Gaff Topsails to "Sense of Place: Loss and the Newfoundland and Labrador Spirit," a jingoistic, sentimental article contributed by Newfoundland writer and performer G.C.
In a scenario quite different from Johnston's novel, Gaff Topsails now forces the contemporary Newfoundlanders, the supposed end-product of Newfoundland history, "the descendants of white settler-invaders," to live within this troubling essentialism.