The Oxford Book of Ireland
edited by Patricia Craig
(Hardback; 22.00 IRP / 33.00 USD)
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Ireland is a country that arouses strong opinions: everyone has a view on its character, its foibles, its charm and its waywardness. It has inspired some of the best poetry and nurtured some of the best writers in the world, and in this book poets, novelists, artists, dramtists, historians, philosophers, peasants and aristrocrats are brought together to celebrate and commemorate the nation and its people.
Irish history lives more in the present than that of other countries, and there are constant reminders in these pages of past triumphs and tragedies, and their continuing impact on the national psyche. Conquest, famine, emigration, the decline of the language, the struggle for identity and independence are all charted here with a raw and passionate immediately. Interwoven with episodes of national turbulence are lyrical sections on the Irish countryside, on the cities and the suburbs, the climate and the folk culture: high jinks and conviviality alongside reminiscence are dispuation.
The anthology opens with a section entitled: The Character of Ireland. Other chapters are: Dublin of the Old Statues; A Brighter Life; Hoary with History; Dirty Streets and Proud People; In My Childhood Trees Were Green; An Ulster Twilight; Bitter Memories; A Nation of Lunaticks!; The Irish Question; The Fields Beyond the House; Brown Rain Falling Heavily; The Thick and Bloody Fight; The Amazing Power of Emblems; The Famished Land; Farewell to Barn and Stack and Tree; Ancestral Houses; Western Landscape; Puritan Land/ Sean-nos/Old Style; The Stereophonic Nightmare; and the The War Against the Past.
The editor's skilful selection transforms a kaleidoscope of images into a picture of real substance and character; immensely rich and varied, full of unexpected as well as familiar voices from the Irish scene; this book captures the essence of a complex and fascinating land.
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