See all: Convergences: Inventories of the Present Just as Ireland has produced many brilliant writers in the past century, so these writers have produced a new Ireland. In a book unprecedented in its scope and approach, Declan Kiberd offers a vivid account of the personalities and texts, English and Irish alike, that reinvented the country after centuries of colonialism. The result is a major literary history of modern Ireland, combining detailed and daring interpretations of literary masterpieces with assessments of the wider role of language, sport, clothing, politics, and philosophy in the Irish revival. In dazzling comparisons with the experience of other postcolonial peoples, the author makes many overdue connections. Along the way, he reveals the vital importance of Protestant values and the immense contributions of women to the enterprise. Inventing Ireland restores to the Irish past a sense of openness that it once had and that has since been obscured by narrow-gauge nationalists and their polemical revisionist critics.
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Shelves: history-of-ireland Declan Kiberd has poured into this huge volume far more knowledge than I can expect to pick back out. I have to say that it took a huge effort to physically read in its entirety, and I had many breaks for other reading, but I was drawn back and onwards because virtually every chapter had its own fascination.
By investigating the many answers to the question what it means to be an Irish writer he taps into all sorts of issues that matter to writers of other cultures and languages, in particular Declan Kiberd has poured into this huge volume far more knowledge than I can expect to pick back out. By investigating the many answers to the question — what it means to be an Irish writer — he taps into all sorts of issues that matter to writers of other cultures and languages, in particular those who share the Irish experience of emerging from colonial rule and constructing an independent national identity.
It is fitting that two of his final chapters discuss the implications of translation, which shapes relations between colonists and colonised, but also relations more widely across cultural and language boundaries. He makes the curious observation that unlike many other nationalities, the Irish, by adopting the English language as their own, have had the opportunity to be their own translators, with subversive results. As a review of literature he has accomplished what I think is a mark of the best critical writing, which is to transform the way I read.
He has persuaded me to buy writers I had not heard of; for instance, I found a solitary and rather expensive copy of Collected Poems of Thomas Macgreevy on the net and rushed to own it.
He has persuaded me that I have to make a proper effort with WB Yeats, a pet hate of mine. A critic who makes me want to read more and to read better is, to my mind, doing a good job. English literature had a liberating effect on Wilde: it equipped him with a mask behind which he was able to compose the lineaments of his Irish face. This was to be a strategy followed by many decolonizing writers; and, as so often, it was the Argentinian, Jorge Luis Borges who gave the fullest account of the method.
There were no camels in the Koran, he said, because only a falsifier, a tourist or a nationalist would have seen them Borges for his part found that being Argentine was either a fate or a mere affectation: if the former, then it was futile to try consciously for an Argentine subject or tone, and if the latter, then that was one mask better left unworn, for it could only be worn in the degrading pretence that the mask actually was the face.
Similarly, the short stories of Patrick Pearse often stressed the redemptive strangeness of the child, bearing to fallen adults messages from another world. The paradox was that these texts, which so nourished Irish national feeling, were often British in origin, and open to the charge of founding themselves on the imperial strategy of infantilizing the native culture. What was lacking in them was what Yeats would later call the vision of evil, without which art was merely superficial, unable to chronicle the tragedy of growth and change.
It followed that the role which they imagined for themselves had to be announced and demonstrated in the very act of writing Both men did not just say things: they also said why these things were appropriate to a national poet.
They affected to discuss their own performance with the implied nation of readers The crucial passages in a book like Moby Dick or Ulysses are written as soliloquy: and the great poems by Whitman and Yeats are based on introspective self-analysis.
Both assumed intimacy with their personal lives on the part of their readers Yet the traditions which they pioneered were also international, in the sense that they were certain that the conditions which produced them and their poems could be repeated in other places.
England and the English had been presented to Irish minds as the very epitome of the human norm. Ireland became not-England Anything English was ipso facto not for the Irish,
Kiberd English, University Coll. It is just that he also sees this as an argument for keeping Northern Ireland British. The result is a major literary history of modern Ir Just as Ireland has produced many brilliant writers in the past century, so these writers have produced a new Ireland. And this, I believe, has sometimes brought him into direct conflict with other critics — most notably, I recall, w First of all, I should say that Declan Kiberd is something of a hero of literary criticism for me. Join Our Mailing List: Kenneth Tynan once quipped that Beckett had a very Irish grudge against God, which the merely godless would never feel — a line which may indeed derive from the famous moment in Endgame when Hamm and Clove curse their creator: Some of his other judgments are less sure-footed: It is an astounding work of genious reader, critic, observer, and human being. The Irish literary tradition not having been a particular interest, I knew some of the authors Kiberd marshalls into his history of imaginary Ireland pretty well, but most sketchily or not at all. Our recent titles are available via Edelweiss.