On the uses of history in recent Irish writing

By Bernhard Klein

On the uses of history in recent Irish writing

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7585-8
  • Pages: 192
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2007
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: general, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Ireland, Literature: history & criticism, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Literature


This book offers a critical reassessment of the uses of history in contemporary Irish literature and culture. It argues that in much recent Irish writing, history is approached not as the proverbial 'nightmare' from which Joyce's Stephen Dedalus tried to awake, but as a rich, imaginative resource. Drawing on recent debates in Irish literary and cultural criticism, On the uses of history in recent Irish writing explores the varied, creative, and often critically challenging forms of rewriting Ireland's troubled past in contemporary prose, drama and poetry.

Individual chapters focus on literary treatments of the Tudor reconquest, the Famine, the Northern Irish Troubles and other key events in Irish history, highlighting in a series of close readings the unique forms of historical thought enabled by different literary forms and genres. Canonical works by authors such as Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Tom Paulin, Brian Friel, Stewart Parker and Frank McGuinness are considered alongside lesser known writers and texts, placing each in their wider social, cultural and historical contexts.


1. Reclaiming the early modern
2. Fact into fiction: novels of the Irish Famine
3. Staging history in contemporary Irish drama
4. Historicising the Troubles in Northern Irish poetry


Bernhard Klein is Reader in Literature at the University of Essex

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