Strange Country: Modernity and Nationhood in Irish Writing since 1790

Strange Country: Modernity and Nationhood in Irish Writing since 1790

Strange Country: Modernity and Nationhood in Irish Writing since 1790

Strange Country: Modernity and Nationhood in Irish Writing since 1790

Synopsis

This book identifies the origin, the development and, ultimately, the success of the Irish literary tradition in English as one of the first literatures that is both national and colonial. It demonstrates the remarkable relationships between works as diverse as Joyce's Dubliners and Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the worlds of the French Revolution and the Irish famine. Deane also shows how almost all the activities of Irish print culture--novels, songs, typefaces, historical analyses, poems--struggle within the limits imposed by its inheritance.

Excerpt

I begin with Burke Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) because I want to read it as a foundational text for a particular description of a contrast and a contest between tradition and modernity that was to become routine in anti-revolutionary writing in Europe. This is a description which, I want to suggest, has a specific importance for Irish writing in the nineteenth century and beyond, although it is not confined either to Ireland or to Europe in its reverberations. To call a text foundational is not, of course, the same as calling it original. I am not claiming that Burke (or Edgeworth or Hardiman, two other authors I shall take as being foundational) is the 'first' Irish author in English from whom a whole tradition can be derived. That is a status that is more often assigned to Swift. A foundational text is one that allows or has allowed for a reading of a national literature in such a manner that even chronologically prior texts can be annexed by it into a narrative that will ascribe to them a preparatory role in the ultimate completion of that narrative's plot. It is a text that generates the possibility of such a narrative and lends to that narrative a versatile cultural and . . .

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