Essay: Contemporary Irish Literature

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Post-Modernist Features of Contemporary Irish Literature

The Irish have always had a strong sense of itself as a nation and as a way of thinking. Although Ireland has often been associated and defined by its political activity, the core beliefs and opinions of the Irish are have been best expressed through literary activity. As a result, contemporary Irish literature has provided some of the most compelling and tragic literature in the English-speaking language. Building on the tradition of modern Irish literature and its themes of personal and national discontent, it provides a very honest, self-confrontational sort of introspection rarely seen in literature.

Contemporary Irish literature continues Modern Irish literature's focus on nationalism and religion and, more importantly, a uniformly critical treatment of those themes. However, Contemporary Irish Literature provides alternative perspectives on the themes of Nationalism and religion, often resulting in sort of self-reflexivity and parody indicative of post-Modernist literature in general but distinctly Irish in voice.

Background

The "Steward of Christendom" is a play written in 1995 by Irish author Sebastian Barry. It follows the experiences of former police captain under the British regime in Ireland, Thomas Dunne,. It describes his fall in status as a result of Irish independence and the new political order that succeeds it. Dunne is very similar to the majority of Ireland, as a Catholic instead of a Protestant like the British. However, he is ostracized from Irish society because of his former association with the British.

The "Cripple of Inishmaan" is a play written in 1996 by London-born Irish author Martin McDonagh. Set in the 1930's, it describes the experiences of a crippled Irish orphan, Billy Claven, who moves to the Aran islands from the neighboring, rural town of Inishman to audition for a Hollywood movie. Inishmore is known for its poverty, isolation, and backwardness, yet is also known by the Irish, perhaps tellingly, for its "Irishnssness." Claven encounters much ignorance, cruelty, and mistreatment at the hands of his townsmen in Inishmore, which is partly the reason he wants to visit the island and the fiml crew.

Analysis

The Literature of the Disenfranchised and Ignored

Contemporary Irish literature characterized by a critical, incisive evaluation of a modern society dominated by industrial Capitalism and Nationalism. Modern society, despite the lessons and the promise engendered by Judeo-Christian religion and the age of Enlightenment, is still a place where groups tend to dominate less ambitious or organized groups. The result, at times, is the dominance of the many by the few, as in Capitalist economies, and, other times, the dominance of the few by the many, as with the English dominance of Ireland. Although the distributions between such groups vary according to emphasis, it appears that the dominant groups appear to get smaller every day.

Contemporary Irish literature, though unique, shares many features with other types of literature by the disenfranchised and ignored. Its critical bent is highly reminiscent of African-American literature or feminist (concerned with themes of gender) literature. Just as African-American literature express the African-American emphasis on racial inequality as the major story of their life in America, the Irish place a similar emphasis on national subjugation to the English. However, it has more affinity with African-American literature because the criticism is placed on the self as well as society.

Modernism and Post-Modernism… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Contemporary Irish Literature.  (2012, April 27).  Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/contemporary-irish-literature/9624904

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"Contemporary Irish Literature."  Essaytown.com.  April 27, 2012.  Accessed July 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/contemporary-irish-literature/9624904.