Introduction

By del Rio-Alvaro, Constanza | Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies, Annual 2012 | Go to article overview

Introduction


del Rio-Alvaro, Constanza, Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies


In my debut as editor of the section "Irish Studies in Spain", I first wish to thank Rosa Gonzalez for her trust and confidence in commissioning me to assume this job. I have taken up the task with enthusiasm, only hoping to achieve the standards of quality of my predecessors, Jose Francisco Fernandez and Ines Praga, just the standards that our journal Estudios Irlandeses deserves. The prestige of the journal keeps growing, and that is a fact, not a question of motherly love. Last November I attended an Irish Conference in Falun, Sweden, at the University of Dalarna, where most delegates belonged to the Nordic Irish Network. All of them knew the journal and most of them praised its excellence. I could not but feel proud of my occasional work for the journal and, particularly, of the efforts and savoir-faire of its General Editor and the whole Editorial Board, and of the scholarly rigour of its contributors.

In this my first appearance, the readers will perceive some novelties: first, efficiently advised by Jose Francisco Fernandez, I have decided to include any work, whether critical, literary, historical, etc., written originally in Spanish though always dealing with Irish matter; then, I have discarded the alphabet as a criterion to list the reviews. Rather, I have opted for grouping them according to their nature: a) works in Spanish; b) translations into Spanish; and c) literary criticism, cultural studies, history, etc. written in English though mostly authored by Spanish scholars. I sincerely expect that the new arrangement, together with the selection of reviews for issue 7 of Estudios Irlandeses, will be both pleasing and interesting for the reader.

Starting with the Spanish originals, there comes first the review of a novel by one of the most prominent contemporary Spanish novelists: Enrique Vila-Matas. Just in its title, Dublinesca (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 2010), the narrative announces its indebtedness to Irish culture by echoing Joyce's Dubliners (1914). Its reviewer, Jose Francisco Fernandez, centres on its protagonist, a retired editor who laments the changes in the literary world brought about by a general commodification and debasement of Literature (with a capital L). Simultaneously, he also shifts his literary preferences from France to Ireland, seen as a "new and strange" cultural site where Joyce and his Ulysses (1922) are still alive and kicking. The Joyce icon is soon followed by Beckett, whose work Vila-Matas, and his partial surrogate the protagonist of the novel, have always read with enthusiasm. Both Irish writers are paid homage in this most literary of novels. Dublinesca is followed by Dublines (Alfonso Zapico, Bilbao: Astiberri, 2011), where more so than in Vila-Matas' novel, Joyce is the absolute protagonist for this is a biography of the Irish writer, though a peculiar one. It is, as far as I know, the first graphic novel reviewed in the journal, and I would like to use this occasion to call the reader's attention to the increasing relevance of and scholarly interest in this emergent genre. In his review, Andres Romero-Jodar links Dublines with other graphic novels by the same author, traces the influence of Richard Ellman's biography on this work, combines generic knowledge of the graphic novel with knowledge on Joyce, and praises this graphic novel's fitting association between form and content. He finally recommends this piece as a good first serious approach to the figure of Joyce. Closing this subsection of Spanish originals, we find El sueno del celta (Mario Vargas Llosa, Madrid: Alfaguara, 2010), Vargas Llosa's first novel after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. As the reviewer Laura Izarra explains, this novel comes out of Vargas Llosa's admiration for Roger Casement's versatile life and figure. Rather a work from its author's imagination and fantasy than a merely historical account, Izarra sees it as a hybrid novel blending journalism, fiction, biography and history. …

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