The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It up in Ireland

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In this opinionated, entertaining book Roy Foster examines how the Irish have written, understood, used, and misused their history over the past century. He provides an unsparing view of the way Irish history is manipulated for political ends and how Irish misfortunes are sentimentalized and packaged. Foster offers incisive readings of writers from Standish O'Grady to Trollope and Bowen and bitingly critiques the memoirs of Gerry Adams and Frank McCourt.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Erudite and acerbic"--Kirkus Reviews

"Foster is a formidably funny and exciting writer, and it is a joy to watch as he charmingly herds each sacred cow to the slaughter."--Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday

"Interesting, suggestive, mostly urbane, sometimes scathing."--Wall Street Journal

"Foster's superb portrait of the essayist Hubert Butler evokes an Irish Orwell; someone who for 60 years, at times reviled and at others ignored, spoke subtle, lucid truth.... Foster eviscerates what he sees as the cramping of the past in memoirs by Frank McCourt and Gerry Adams.... What Foster is really going after is not politics but a way of thinking and writing 'for an audience in search of reaffirmation rather than dislocation--or enlightenment.'... Style is Foster's touchstone for truth. His disdain for McCourt's and Adams's writing, and the tradition of tale-telling, is more than literary."--Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review

"Roy Foster is one of the most elegant and probing writers on Irish topics and also one of the most controversial. In Ireland itself, where history matters, Foster attracts Cornel West-scale publicity. He's the leading figure in a generation of 'revisionist' historians who have chipped away at what they describe as Irish myths. American readers are about to get a fresh taste of his stiletto pen and icon-smashing habits when his latest book, 'The Irish Story' hits these shores."--Chris Shea, Boston Globe

"The outpouring of literature from Ireland has ever been enormous, and nothing seems to stem it, or to reduce the excellence of the best of it. Occasionally, amid that plenitude there emerges a book that startles and provokes to the point of demanding extraordinary attention. Such a book is The Irish Story.... I can think of no book that more clearly, provocatively and intelligently delineates the important underlying contemporary truths of Ireland and the Irish than this insightful, courageous and splendid work."--Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sun

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195168877
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.97 (w) x 5.31 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Roy Foster is Professor of History and a Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford. He is the author of W. B. Yeats: The Apprentice Mage and Modern Ireland, and is the editor of The Oxford History of Ireland.

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