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Irish classics
Kiberd, Declan.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2001.

Physical Description:
xvi, 704 pages ; 24 cm
Gaelic Ireland : apocalypse now? -- Bardic poetry : the loss of aura -- Saving civilization : Céitinn and Ó Bruadair -- Dying acts : Ó Rathaille and others -- Endings and beginnings : Mac Cuarta and after -- Jonathan Swift : a colonial outsider? -- Nostalgia as protest : Goldsmith's 'Deserted village' -- Radical pastoral : Goldsmith's She stoops to conquer -- Sheridan and subversion -- Eibhlín Dhubh Ní Chonaill : the lament for Art Ó Laoghaire -- Brian Merriman's midnight court -- Burke, Ireland and revolution -- Republican self-fashioning : the journal of Wolf Tone -- Native informants: Maria Edgeworth and Castle Rackrent -- Confronting famine : Carleton's peasantry -- Feudalism falling : A drama in muslin -- Love songs of Connacht -- Anarchist attitudes : Oscar Wilde -- George Bernard Shaw : Arms and the man -- Somerville and Ross : The silver fox -- Undead in the nineties : Bram Stoker and Dracula -- Augusta Gregory's Cuchulain : the rebirth of the hero -- Synge's Triste tropiques : the Aran Islands -- W.B. Yeats : building amid ruins -- Ulysses, newspapers and modernism -- After the revolution : O'Casey and O'Flaherty -- Gaelic absurdism : At swim-two-birds -- The Blasket autobiographies -- Incorrigibly plural : Louis MacNeice -- Kate O'Brien : The ante-room -- All the dead voices : Cré na cille -- Underdeveloped comedy : Patrick Kavanagh -- Anglo-Gaelic literature : Seán Ó Riordáin -- Irish narrative : a short history.
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PR8714 .K54 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A celebration of the tenacious life of the enduring Irish classics, this book by one of Irish writing's most eloquent readers offers a brilliant and accessible survey of the greatest works since 1600 in Gaelic and English, which together have shaped one of the world's most original literary cultures.

In the course of his discussion of the great seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Gaelic poems of dispossession, and of later work in that language that refuses to die, Declan Kiberd provides vivid and idiomatic translations that bring the Irish texts alive for the English-speaking reader.

Extending from the Irish poets who confronted modernity as a cataclysm, and who responded by using traditional forms in novel and radical ways, to the great modern practitioners of such paradoxically conservative and revolutionary writing, Kiberd's work embraces three sorts of Irish classics: those of awesome beauty and internal rigor, such as works by the Gaelic bards, Yeats, Synge, Beckett, and Joyce; those that generate a myth so powerful as to obscure the individual writer and unleash an almost superhuman force, such as the Cuchulain story, the lament for Art O'Laoghaire, and even Dracula ; and those whose power exerts a palpable influence on the course of human action, such as Swift's Drapier's Letters , the speeches of Edmund Burke, or the autobiography of Wolfe Tone. The book closes with a moving and daring coda on the Anglo-Irish agreement, claiming that the seeds of such a settlement were sown in the works of Irish literature.

A delight to read throughout, Irish Classics is a fitting tribute to the works it reads so well and inspires us to read, and read again.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In these 35 exciting essays, Kiberd (Inventing Ireland; etc.), professor of Anglo-Irish Literature at University College, Dublin, covers just about every aspect of Irish literature, its writers and the times in which they lived. Beginning with young Gaelic Ireland, Kiberd rapidly advances straight to Jonathan Swift and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. But the meat of the book starts with the political stirrings of the late 18th century. In the Journal of Wolfe Tone Kiberd exposes the rakish personality behind the rather saintly legend that textbooks have applied to one of the most prominent revolutionaries of 1798. Advancing to the late 19th century, the author notes that Oscar Wilde was the antithesis of John Millington Synge. While Synge studied the Irish poor, Wilde, conversely and perversely, studied the British upper class. Kiberd sees Joyce's Ulysses "as a slow-motion alternative to the daily newspaper of Dublin for 16 June 1904." He sees it as a means for Joyce to trumpet the common man, and also as a way to deflate his hubris. Sean O'Casey and Liam O'Flaherty are coupled as postrevolutionary writers. O'Casey's plays, such as Juno and the Paycock, are an attempt to tackle an "outbreak of middle-class morality," and O'Flaherty's The Informer is an "attempt to wrest the meaning and interpretation of the Jesus story from the priests." The essay on Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds recalls the common joke of mid-20th-century Ireland: "I'm in a terrible state I'm in the Free State!," allowing O'Brien to contrast masturbation with something much worse literary production. There are also essays on Synge, Yeats, Shaw and more. This rich stew is filled with new insights and interpretations, with something for everyone. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Respected critic and historian Kiberd (Anglo-Irish literature, University Coll., Dublin; Inventing Ireland, Harvard, 1995) defines a classic as something "forever young and fresh" that everyone enjoys reading. His title omits the word the since, he contends, every selection of a canon is arbitrary and personal. While the author's earlier study began with the late 19th-century Irish Literary Revival, this volume commences with the early 17th century, when the fabled Flight of the Earls led to the collapse of Gaelic Ireland and the bardic order and continues into the 20th century. Kiberd includes "dead artists whose reputation seems secure" and discusses literature in the context of history and politics, forces inseparable from Irish cultural developments. Central to the study is the issue of language, since Irish literature has been produced in English, Irish, and Hiberno-English; Kiberd also makes clear that there is a distinction between "Irish" and "Gaelic" culture. This well-documented, analytical study is highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Kiberd (University College, Dublin) offers two scholarly ways to approach a classic: to interpret it "in terms of its own age" and to find in it new meanings and values. And he defines three sorts of Irish classics: those reflecting "awesome beauty and internal rigor"; those that "unleash[ ] an almost superhuman force"; and those that have "a great influence on human events." Guided by this theory, Kiberd presents a series of classics, beginning with bardic poetry and followed by an inclusive list of authors with biographical details and an analysis of his or her major work (e.g., Swift and Gulliver's Travels). If this reviewer were to select (perhaps arbitrarily) a single theme that unites all of the writers discussed here, it would be one Kiberd articulates in his discussion of George Moore: "This was the tragic flaw of the Anglo-Irish: to have lived without any sense of connection to the surrounding people." Combining close analysis and a wide range of authors (including Gaelic), Kiberd demonstrates that scholarship can be interesting. Irish Classics joins a literature that includes Robert Tracy's The Unappeasable Host: Studies in Irish Identities (CH, Mar'99) and Julian Moynahan's Anglo-Irish: The Literary Imagination in a Hyphenated Culture (CH, Jun'95). Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. F. L. Ryan Stonehill College

Table of Contents

1 Gaelic Ireland: Apocalypse Now?
2 Bardic Poetry: The Loss of Aura
3 Saving Civilization: Ceacute;itinn and Ó Bruadair
4 Dying Acts: Ó Rathaille and Others
5 Endings and Beginnings: Mac Cuarta and After
6 Jonathan Swift: a Colonial Outsider?
7 Home and Away: Gulliver's Travels
8 Nostalgia as Protest: Goldsmith's 'Deserted Village'
9 Radical Pastoral: Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer
10 Sheridan and Subversion
11 Eibhliacute;n Dhubh Niacute; Chonaill: The Lament for Art Ó Laoghaire
12 Brian Merriman's Midnight Court
13 Burke, Ireland and Revolution
14 Republican Self-Fashioning: The Journal of Wolfe Tone
I5 Native Informants: Maria Edgeworth and Castle Rackrent
16 Confronting Famine: Carleton's Peasantry
17 Feudalism Falling: A Drama in Muslin
18 Love Songs of Connacht
19 Anarchist Attitudes: Oscar Wilde
20 George Bernard Shaw: Arms and the Man
21 Somerville and Ross: The Silver Fox
22 Undead in the Nineties: Bram Stoker and Dracula
23 Augusta Gregory's Cuchulain: The Rebirth of the Hero
24 Synge's Tristes Tropiques: The Aran Islands
25 W.B. Yeats - Building Amid Ruins
26 Ulysses, Newspapers and Modernism
27 After the Revolution: O'Casey and O'Flaherty
28 Gaelic Absurdism: At Swim-Two-Birds
29 The Blasket Autobiographies
30 Incorrigibly Plural: Louis MacNeice
31 Kate O'Brien: The Ante-Room
32 All the Dead Voices - Creacute; Na Cille
33 Underdeveloped Comedy: Patrick Kavanagh
34 Anglo-Gaelic Literature: Seaacute;n Ó Riacute;ordeacute;in
35 Irish Narrative: A Short History