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Topic: In Honor of Saint Patrick's Day...

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Subject: In Honor of Saint Patrick's Day...
Date Posted: 3/11/2009 10:53 AM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2009
Posts: 37
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I'd like to get a feel for what you all enjoy as far as Irish literature goes.  It is my true passion, along with its history.

My favorite poem is "The Wayfarer" by Padriac Pearse, love Edna O'Brien, W.B. Yeats, and William Trevor.  I cannot stand Frank McCourt...

Ummmm...my favorite short story is "The Dead" by James Joyce, love Colm Toibin's "The Master", and think Thomas Keneally rocked my socks with "The Great Shame and the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World.

Your turn!

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 12:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
Posts: 332
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Now that I'm an antique, Yeats' poem 'When you are old and grey and full of sleep/and nodding by the fire, take down this book..." keeps going through my head. Hmm - I'll go look up the rest so perhaps my brain will let me remember the whole thing.
Date Posted: 3/11/2009 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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My two utter and absolute favorite Irish writers: William Butler Yeats and Oscar Wilde.

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 2:00 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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I grew up in a home that celebrated Bloomsday as if it was an actual, recognized holiday, so I may be biased.  Ulysses is magic.

I also grew up reading Edna O'Brien and Yeats.

But, really, the Irish make the best playwrights.  Wilde and Shaw, of course, and for my money Martin McDonagh is the best playwright alive on the planet and working at the top of his game right now.

Oh - and Lord Dunsany.

And I always thought the Brontes' Irish father imparted a Celtic gloom to their books.  They are ethnically, if not actually, Irish.  But, again, I may be biased, as my grandfather's family if from the same tiny village as Patrick Bronte (the family was originally Brunty, and Catholic).

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2009
Posts: 37
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The Brontes are most definitely Anglo-Irish writers.  We studied them as such at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.  Of course, if you talk to some hard core nationalists, they will argue that WB Yeats, Lady Gregory, William Trevor, and all the other Protestant members of Irish society aren't truly Irish.  ;) 

I also wanted to add "Jews in 20th Century Ireland"- a textbook I found and just *had* to have while in Coleraine is one of the most interesting and mind boggling books I have ever read.  Just loved it.

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 5:40 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Of course, if you talk to some hard core nationalists, they will argue that WB Yeats, Lady Gregory, William Trevor, and all the other Protestant members of Irish society aren't truly Irish

There's a nasty argument raging about Martin McDonagh, too - that he is actually English and has appropriated cliches of Irishness for his work.  Claiming that Yeats, Lady Gregory, et al are not actually Irish is ludicrous.  Would they like to turn the Abbey Theatre over to the English?  Because, really. 

Le Fanu was Irish (or at least Anglo-Irish), wasn't he?  I love him.

 

 

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 6:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2009
Posts: 37
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There's a nasty argument raging about Martin McDonagh, too - that he is actually English and has appropriated cliches of Irishness for his work. 

 

Well, in my humble opinion, he's going to have cliches of Irishness because that is what the Irish do.  Good grief, JM Synge's "Playboy of the Western World" was filled with cliches from the title of the central character to the characters appearances and actions.  Anyone who lives in Ireland will tell you that the Republic and North are filled with the 'elephant in the closet' scenarios. 

 

Yeats was often criticized because he 'trivialized' and 'romanticized' the Irish, while many would argue that Joyce is not an Irish author at all because he spent so much time abroad.  I guess everyone is the critic instead of the person who truly critiques (finding value and meaning beyond what we see as obvious.)

 

Martin McDonagh would be remaining within the norm if using cliches.  Also, f I recall, his parents were expats to Britian and that will shape his work due to their own life decisions.

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Well, in my humble opinion, he's going to have cliches of Irishness because that is what the Irish do.

I totally agree.  And it could be argued that his work is both good enough and extreme enough to both utilize and transcend cliches.

Personally,I would rather reject terrible writers and embrace the really good ones, so this denying of Irishness has always seemed really counter-productive to me. 

I have never been a huge fan of Synge's.  Having to work on Playboy in theatre school was not one of my fondest memories. 

Oh - Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and The Woman Who Walked Into Doors are so wonderful.

Cheers to Irish writers of all (or no) faiths, the Anglo-Irish and the Irish Americans, too!

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2009
Posts: 37
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Oh, now see, I love Synge.  Perhaps it's because I studied him in a literary/cultural/linguistic sense, but he was so intelligent, committed, and talented.  He really helped with the Gaeltacht region's revival, helped the Arran islands to this day continue to preserve their history, and assisted in putting cogs into motion for Irish cultural renewal.   I find him amazing. 

 

So, you're a theatre person, eh?  So was I.

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 6:53 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2009
Posts: 37
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Oh, and I agree on the Roddy Doyle comment.  You really need to read Finbar's Hotel and try to figure out which one he wrote.  It's kinda fun.

Date Posted: 3/12/2009 9:07 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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Wow I feel like an idiot- how could I have forgotten one of my other favorites, Bram Stoker?

Also Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, J.S. le Fanu and Richard Sheridan.  Also, although he seemed the consummate Englishman, C.S. Lewis was actually born Belfast.