Inventing Ireland / Edition 1

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Overview

Just as Ireland has produced many brilliant writers in the past century, so these writers have produced a new Ireland. In a book unprecedented in its scope and approach, Declan Kiberd offers a vivid account of the personalities and texts, English and Irish alike, that reinvented the country after centuries of colonialism. The result is a major literary history of modern Ireland, combining detailed and daring interpretations of literary masterpieces with assessments of the wider role of language, sport, clothing, politics, and philosophy in the Irish revival.

In dazzling comparisons with the experience of other postcolonial peoples, the author makes many overdue connections. Rejecting the notion that artists such as Wilde, Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett became modern to the extent that they made themselves "European," he contends that the Irish experience was a dramatic instance of experimental modernity and shows how the country's artists blazed a trail that led directly to the magic realism of a García Márquez or a Rushdie. Along the way, he reveals the vital importance of Protestant values and the immense contributions of women to the enterprise. Kiberd's analysis of the culture is interwoven with sketches of the political background, bringing the course of modern Irish literature into sharp relief against a tragic history of conflict, stagnation, and change.

Inventing Ireland restores to the Irish past a sense of openness that it once had and that has since been obscured by narrow-gauge nationalists and their polemical revisionist critics. In closing, Kiberd outlines an agenda for Irish Studies in the next century and detects the signs of a second renaissance in the work of a new generation of authors and playwrights, from Brian Friel to the younger Dublin writers.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review

A critical study laced with wit, energy and unrelenting adroitness of discourse...Mr. Kiberd possesses a special gift for patient exploration of works of art in relationship to their surroundings...Wit, paradox, and an almost indecent delight in verbal jugglery place Mr. Kiberd himself in a central Irish literary tradition that also includes Swift, Joyce, and Beckett...Impudent, eloquent, full of jokes and irreverence, by turns sardonic and conciliatory, blithely subversive but, without warning, turning to display wide and serious reading, a generosity of spirit, a fierce and authentic concern for social and political justice. Rather like Wilde and Shaw...A remarkable achievement.
— Thomas Flanagan

Irish Times

Kiberd possesses one of the liveliest and sharpest minds in Ireland, and it is not surprising that his book dazzles and engages. Nor that Inventing Ireland is both an international and an Irish book.
— Eileen Battersby

Washington Post Book World

[A] state-of-the-art approach to Irish literature...a huge, erudite, scrupulous hermeneutics of the sacred literary texts in the Irish world...This is one of the best studies of Irish literature to come along in years.
— Michael Stephens

Sunday Telegraph

Inventing Ireland...deserves to be read, not only by people with a special interest in Irish writing, but also by people with a strong interest in modern writing in English. Kiberd has much that is original and valuable to say.
— Conor Cruise O'Brien

Washington Times

A dazzling book, a book to cherish and revisit. As you read and reread the Anglo-Irish texts, you'll find it altering them, lightening them up. It changes Beckett and Joyce; it especially changes John Millington Synge. It ends by offering to reshape Irish Studies curricula.
— Hugh Kenner

The Tribune Magazine

Formidable, thoroughly enjoyable, always engaged, often brilliant...This is the fullest attempt we have had to date to read both Irish historical experience and the literature that this has involved in the light of post-colonial theory.
— Terence Brown

Times Literary Supplement

[A] thought-provoking and entertaining critical blockbuster...There is no doubt that this book immediately joins a small group of indispensable books on Anglo-Irish literary history. It is also typical of the best of that school in the brio and wit with which its learning and intelligence are carried.
— Bernard O'Donoghue

Irish Independent

Kiberd's study is provocative, contentious, sly, tendentious, challenging, witty...It is a book argued with such passionate intensity that everyone with an interest in modern Irish writing will have to confront it, and in that confrontation revisions and redefinitions are likely to slouch towards birth...Kiberd's book is a resounding success. It will seduce you, bludgeon you and outrage you. Few books can boast such presence.
— Gerry Dukes

Irish Literary Supplement

Inventing Ireland is a major contribution to Irish literary studies, a work that at its best pulsates with the same iconoclastic commitment to renewal and emancipation that Kiberd reveres in the works of the Irish writers of the revolutonary generation.
— Joe Cleary

Sunday Business Post

An epic study in various forms of connection between literature and society, literature and history. Kiberd has set himself a mammoth task which he has undertaken with energetic erudition and accomplished with convincing style...[Kiberd's] most striking characteristic as a critic is his intellectual daring: he is capable of saying things that simply take the reader's breath away...[This book is] ebullient, monumental...epical in its aims and achievements.
— Brendan Kennelly

New York Times Book Review - Thomas Flanagan
A critical study laced with wit, energy and unrelenting adroitness of discourse...Mr. Kiberd possesses a special gift for patient exploration of works of art in relationship to their surroundings...Wit, paradox, and an almost indecent delight in verbal jugglery place Mr. Kiberd himself in a central Irish literary tradition that also includes Swift, Joyce, and Beckett...Impudent, eloquent, full of jokes and irreverence, by turns sardonic and conciliatory, blithely subversive but, without warning, turning to display wide and serious reading, a generosity of spirit, a fierce and authentic concern for social and political justice. Rather like Wilde and Shaw...A remarkable achievement.
Irish Times - Eileen Battersby
Kiberd possesses one of the liveliest and sharpest minds in Ireland, and it is not surprising that his book dazzles and engages. Nor that Inventing Ireland is both an international and an Irish book.
Washington Post Book World - Michael Stephens
[A] state-of-the-art approach to Irish literature...a huge, erudite, scrupulous hermeneutics of the sacred literary texts in the Irish world...This is one of the best studies of Irish literature to come along in years.
Sunday Telegraph - Conor Cruise O'Brien
Inventing Ireland...deserves to be read, not only by people with a special interest in Irish writing, but also by people with a strong interest in modern writing in English. Kiberd has much that is original and valuable to say.
Washington Times - Hugh Kenner
A dazzling book, a book to cherish and revisit. As you read and reread the Anglo-Irish texts, you'll find it altering them, lightening them up. It changes Beckett and Joyce; it especially changes John Millington Synge. It ends by offering to reshape Irish Studies curricula.
The Tribune Magazine - Terence Brown
Formidable, thoroughly enjoyable, always engaged, often brilliant...This is the fullest attempt we have had to date to read both Irish historical experience and the literature that this has involved in the light of post-colonial theory.
Edward W. Said
Inventing Ireland is that completely unusual thing: a highly readable, joyfully contentious book whose enormous learning and superb understanding of the literary text will introduce readers for the first time to a remarkably lively panorama of Irish culture during the last century. Full of novel readings, theoretical investigations and audacious connections, Declan Kiberd's book lifts Ireland out of ethnic studies and lore and places it in the post-colonial world. In doing so he situates its great cultural traditions where they jostle not only the major texts of English literature, but also those of writers like Salman Rushdie and García Márquez. The result in a dazzling, bravura performance.
Times Literary Supplement - Bernard O'Donoghue
[A] thought-provoking and entertaining critical blockbuster...There is no doubt that this book immediately joins a small group of indispensable books on Anglo-Irish literary history. It is also typical of the best of that school in the brio and wit with which its learning and intelligence are carried.
Irish Independent - Gerry Dukes
Kiberd's study is provocative, contentious, sly, tendentious, challenging, witty...It is a book argued with such passionate intensity that everyone with an interest in modern Irish writing will have to confront it, and in that confrontation revisions and redefinitions are likely to slouch towards birth...Kiberd's book is a resounding success. It will seduce you, bludgeon you and outrage you. Few books can boast such presence.
Irish Literary Supplement - Vera Kreilkamp
Kiberd's magesterial exploration of how cultural nationalism produced one of the world's great modern literatures is especially valuable as nationalism itself becomes increasingly implicated in the violence and terrorism in Northern ireland, Yugoslavia, Israel, and many African states.
Irish Literary Supplement - Joe Cleary
Inventing Ireland is a major contribution to Irish literary studies, a work that at its best pulsates with the same iconoclastic commitment to renewal and emancipation that Kiberd reveres in the works of the Irish writers of the revolutonary generation.
Sunday Business Post - Brendan Kennelly
An epic study in various forms of connection between literature and society, literature and history. Kiberd has set himself a mammoth task which he has undertaken with energetic erudition and accomplished with convincing style...[Kiberd's] most striking characteristic as a critic is his intellectual daring: he is capable of saying things that simply take the reader's breath away...[This book is] ebullient, monumental...epical in its aims and achievements.
Brian Friel
Inventing Ireland is exactly what its title claims--an act of exuberant creativity. Nimbly, skillfully, and almost with a sense of near-wonderment at his own discoveries, Kiberd explores the continuities between Irish past and Irish present. And by focusing on what he calls 'revered masterpieces,' and by examining them in the wider social context out of which they came, he fashions a nation that is hospitable to all its prickly constituents.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674463646
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Series: Convergences: Inventories of the Present Series , #16
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 736
  • Product dimensions: 6.37 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Declan Kiberd is Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature at University College Dublin.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Introduction

1. A New England Called Ireland?

IRELAND—ENGLAND'S UNCONSCIOUS?

Interchapter

2. Oscar Wilde—The Artist as Irishman

3. John Bull's Other Islander—Bernard Shaw

ANGLO-IRELAND: THE WOMAN'S PART

Interchapter

4. Tragedies of Manners—Somerville and Ross

5. Lady Gregory and the Empire Boys

YEATS: LOOKING INTO THE LION'S FACE

Interchapter

6. Childhood and Ireland

7. The National Longing for Form

RETURN TO THE SOURCE?

Interchapter

8. Deanglicization

9. Nationality or Cosmopolitanism?

10. J. M. Synge—Remembering the Future

REVOLUTION AND WAR

Interchapter

11. Uprising

12. The Plebeians Revise the Uprising

13. The Great War and Irish Memory

WORLDS APART?

14. Ireland and the End of Empire

INVENTING IRELANDS

Interchapter

15. Writing Ireland, Reading England

16. Inventing Irelands

17. Revolt Into Style—Yeatsian Poetics

18. The Last Aisling—A Vision

19. James Joyce and Mythic Realism

SEXUAL POLITICS

Interchapter

20. Elizabeth Bowen—The Dandy in Revolt

21. Fathers and Sons

22. Mothers and Daughters

PROTESTANT REVIVALS

Interchapter

23. Protholics and Cathestants

24. Saint Joan—Fabian Feminist, Protestant Mystic

25. The Winding Stair

26. Religious Writing: Beckett and Others

UNDERDEVELOPMENT

Interchapter

27. The Periphery and the Centre

28. Flann O'Brien, Myles, and The Poor Mouth

29. The Empire Writes Back—Brendan Behan

30. Beckett's Texts of Laughter and Forgetting

31. Post-Colonial Ireland—"A Quaking Sod"

RECOVERY AND RENEWAL

Interchapter

32. Under Pressure—The Writer and Society 1960-90

33. Friel Translating

34. Translating Tradition

REINVENTING IRELAND

35. Imagining Irish Studies

Notes

Index

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