Forging in the Smithy: National Identity and Representation in Anglo-Irish Literary History

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The interest of Anglo-Irish literature is not only that its canon includes a high proportion of literary giants - Yeats, Joyce, Beckett - but also that it exemplifies the problematics of literature in a context of social and cultural tension. Irish literary history has often been studied under precisely that aspect: as the literature of a country in a marginal, colonial yet intra-European position; a country where a variety of cultural traditions (Gaelic, Anglo-Irish, Ulster Presbyterian) have coexisted in an uneasy relationship; a country with intense social and economic divisions. These infrastructural tensions are not mere background or part of the context, but have been explicitly thematized in a substantial part of Ireland's literary output, so that an Irish author who does not address the matter of Ireland stands out as an anomaly, an exception to the general patterns. Therefore, the historical context of much Anglo-Irish scholarship is hardly surprising. Forging the Smithy: National Identity and Representation in Anglo-Irish Literary Historyaddresses three interrelated areas of interest: language, territory and politics; the role of historical consciousness in Irish authors and in their dissemination; and the representation of Irish affairs asa it gives rise to specific literary strategies.

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Page 210 - The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north ; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea ; yet the sea is not full ; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
Page 210 - And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth ; and thou destroyest the hope of man.
Page 12 - ... after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves ; and, if they found a plot of water-cresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast for the time, yet not able long to continue therewithal ; that in short space there were none almost left, and a most populous and plentiful country suddenly left void of man and beast...
Page 12 - ... ere one year and a half they were brought to such wretchedness, as that any stony heart would have rued the same. Out of every corner of the woods and glens they came creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear them ; they looked like anatomies of death, they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves...
Page 67 - To subvert the tyranny of our execrable Government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country — these were my objects.
Page 12 - ... anatomies of death ; they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves; they did eat the dead carrions, happy where they could find them; yea, and one another soon after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves ; and if they found a plot of watercresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast...
Page 20 - ... if some princes in the world had them, they would soon hope to be lords of all the seas, and ere long of all the world...
Page 19 - And sure it is yet a most beautiful and sweet country as any is under heaven, being stored throughout with many goodly rivers, replenished with all sorts of fish most abundantly, sprinkled with many very...
Page 15 - ... it is her cloak and safeguard, and also a coverlet for her lewd exercise, and when she hath filled her vessel, under it she can hide both her burden and her blame...
Page 18 - And joy likewise this solemne day to see ? They saw it all, and present were in place ; Though I them all according their degree Cannot recount, nor tell their hidden race, Nor read the salvage cuntreis thorough which they pace.