Literature and the Irish Famine, 1845-1919

Synopsis

The impact of the Irish famine of 1845-1852 was unparalleled in both political and psychological terms. The effects of famine-related mortality and emigration were devastating, in the field of literature no less than in other areas. In this incisive new study, Melissa Fegan explores the famine's legacy to literature, tracing it in the work of contemporary writers and their successors, down to 1919. Dr. Fegan examines both fiction and non-fiction, including journalism, travel-narratives and the Irish novels of Anthony Trollope. She argues that an examination of famine literature that simply categorizes it as "minor" or views it only as a silence or an absence misses the very real contribution that it makes to our understanding of the period. This is an important contribution to the study of Irish history and literature, sharply illuminating contemporary Irish mentalities.