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Understanding Contemporary Irish Fiction and Drama

Margaret Hallissy



Published: Aug 1 2016


Published: Aug 1 2016

OA Ebook
Published: Aug 1 2016


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

A study of the key themes and events essential to understanding Irish fiction and drama

In Understanding Contemporary Irish Fiction and Drama, Margaret Hallissy examines the work of a cross-section of important Irish writers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries who are representative of essential issues and themes in the canon of contemporary Irish literature. Included are early figures John Millington Synge and James Joyce; dramatists Brian Friel, Conor McPherson, and Tom Murphy; and prize-winning contemporary fiction writers such as Edna O'Brien, Joseph O'Connor, William Trevor, Roddy Doyle, and Colum McCann.

Each chapter focuses on one significant representative piece of contemporary Irish fiction or drama by filling in its cultural, historical, and literary background. Hallissy identifies a key theme or key event in the Irish past essential to understanding the work. She then analyzes earlier literary compositions with the same theme and through a close reading of the contemporary work provides context for that background. The chapters are organized chronologically by relevant historical events, with thematic discussions interspersed. Background pieces were chosen for their places in Irish literature and the additional insight they provide into the featured works.

Margaret Hallissy is a professor of English at Long Island University in Brookville, New York. She is the author of Reading Irish-American Fiction: The Hyphenated Self; A Companion to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; Clean Maids, True Wives, Steadfast Widows: Chaucer's Women and Medieval Codes of Conduct; Venomous Woman: Fear of the Female in Literature; and many scholarly articles on medieval and modern literature.

"Margaret Hallissy's thoughtful, nuanced study of selected works of Irish fiction and drama demonstrates the ways that the works reflect the multiple interpretations of major events in modern Irish history and of key elements of Irish culture. Hallissy's purpose in her intelligent study is not to write an historical analysis of each event but to inquire into the historical interpretations that have informed the writer's point of view about each of the historical moments."—Maureen O. Murphy, Hofstra University

"Surveying the major tropes and events of Irish literature, Hallissy's Understanding Contemporary Irish Fiction and Drama provides accessible critical commentary and carefully chosen literary examples. Especially useful is her guidance on reading Irish texts with sensitivity toward ambiguity and the unspoken. Students will derive understanding of not only the complexity of Irish experiences as represented by particular writers, but also the vital roles these genres have played in re-examining unsettled aspects of Irish history and politics."—Eileen Morgan-Zayachek, associate professor of English, State University of New York, Oneonta

"Students of contemporary Irish literature, as well as college teachers seeking guidance on organizing courses or instructing key historical and cultural contexts, will profit greatly from an encounter with Hallissy's cogent, lucid synthesis."—English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920

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