Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 February 2020
The decades that followed 1940 in Ireland are conventionally framed in terms of literary underperformance and political exhaustion. This introduction sets out the volume as an important intervention into this common perception, energised by what can be considered a quantitative turn in Irish cultural criticism, with a concomitant spatial expansion of what can be termed ‘Irish literature’. This gives way to a discussion of how an ingrained theme in twentieth-century critical perspectives – that of distance between Irish culture and European and international influences – is belied by a contemporary literature which registered the impact of proximity and connection. The introduction goes on to discuss how these connections are measured by subsequent essays in the volume, some of which are thematised around literary traffic between Ireland and Europe, America, Britain, and beyond. The genres which contained these communications are also discussed in contributions, alongside the often interrelated questions of language, publishing, and reception, amongst others. In its conclusion, the essay describes the fragility of the Irish literary canon, offering the Irish writing of this period as uneven despite the international recognition that many of its authors were receiving.