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Seamus Deane was one of the most vital and versatile authors of our time. Small World presents an unmatched survey of Irish writing, and of writing about Irish issues, from 1798 to the present day. Elegant, polemical, and incisive, it addresses the political, aesthetic, and cultural dimensions of several notable literary and historical moments, and monuments, from the island's past and present. The style of Swift; the continuing influence of Edmund Burke's political thought in the USA; the echoing debates about national character; aspects of Joyce's and of Elizabeth Bowen's relation to modernism; memories of Seamus Heaney; analysis of the representation of Northern Ireland in Anna Burns's fiction – these topics constitute only a partial list of the themes addressed by a volume that should be mandatory reading for all those who care about Ireland and its history. The writings included here, from one of Irish literature's most renowned critics, have individually had a piercing impact, but they are now collectively amplified by being gathered together here for the first time between one set of covers. Small World: Ireland, 1798–2018 is an indispensable collection from one of the most important voices in Irish literature and culture.
Mid-century Ireland was a society of surreal contradictions: an island that declared neutrality an emergency, a nation that became a republic by accident. This chapter examines how Irish writers responded to and reimagined the political and ideological contours of both states on the island in the post-war period, and in particular the creation by artists of altered states in which to seek refuge from the foreclosed reality of official Ireland(s). It charts the responses made by a group of writers whose themes ranged from a historical sense of dislocation and the search for a voice and an audience to an openness to vision and a careful attention to the environment. Initially discussing the novels of Elizabeth Bowen, Brian O’Nolan and Edna O’Brien, it outlines how they conceived of their roles within and beyond the nation in this time of change. The chapter then discusses how the outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland provided the backdrop and impulse for new collective aesthetic projects in these later decades, such as the Field Day project and Atlantis magazine, that advanced the use of literature to imagine alternate Irelands beyond the pale of state and nation.
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