Modern Irish Literature: Sources and Founders

Modern Irish Literature: Sources and Founders

Modern Irish Literature: Sources and Founders

Modern Irish Literature: Sources and Founders


Modern Irish Literature marks the culmination of the lifetime interest of the distinguished scholar Vivian Mercier (1919-89) in the influence of Gaelic literature on modern Irish writing. Building on the insights developed in his classic The Irish Comic Tradition, Mercier's focus here is on the research of nineteenth-century scholars which gave rise to the revival of Irish literature in English. Separate chapters analyzing the work of writers including Bernard Shaw, Yeats, Synge, Joyce, and Beckett build to provide a fresh and timely picture of Irish literary tradition. Informed by a wealth and diversity of scholarship, and written in a highly accessible style, this book is a major contribution to the study of Irish literature.


When my husband Vivian Mercier died in November 1989, he left what he considered his most important work unfinished. It was to have been in two volumes, the culmination of a life of affectionate scholarship in relation to Irish literature in English. He was particularly pleased to observe the large part played in the Irish revival by graduates of his beloved University, Trinity College, Dublin.

The task of editing this volume was made easier by the existence of a first draft and many relevant footnotes. Vivian's scholarly standards were of the highest and the breadth of his knowledge of world literature was everywhere in evidence. Errors and oversights were extremely rare. There was also a complete table of contents for the first volume, and copious notes for the second, though unfortunately very little of this had been written.

In presenting the work in one volume, I was well aware that the material on Beckett and Joyce belonged properly to the second volume, where it would have been seen as a powerful influence on modern Irish writers. I also took the liberty of rearranging some of the chapters, placing the short chapter on European-Irish Literary Connections at the end. I was greatly helped by the fact that I was very familiar with all of Vivian's work, and especially with this project which we discussed in its various stages. It gives me great pleasure to be associated with it and to see a part, at least, of his larger plan come into existence.

Eilís Dillon . . .

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