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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: December 2020

Chapter 13 - Modernism, Belfast, and Early Twentieth-Century Ireland

from Part II - After Parnell


Belfast as a literary subject is absent from the key texts of Irish modernism written in the early twentieth century, when Belfast was a major industrial city renowned for its shipbuilding. This chapter examines works by the few writers who wrote of the industrial city with its numerous working class that had built the Titanic: Richard Rowley, Sean O’Faolain, and Louis MacNeice, the latter two of whom excoriated the city. Even Joyce, who understood that Dublin was a quintessential modern city in Ulysses, ignored the city to its north, while Samuel Beckett in his novel Murphy, a work focused on London (that sought to do for London what Joyce had done for Dublin), chose to deal with industrial modernity only in a satiric and dismissive fashion.