The Irish Writer and the World
Publisher: Cambridge University Press | ISBN: 0521841631 | edition 2005 | PDF | 342 pages | 1,88mb
Declan Kiberd, author of the award-winning Irish Classics and Inventing Ireland,
Kiberd began his lectureship in Irish, only transferring to teaching English it seems, after the failure of this dual-track program to be established. His insistence upon the necessity to consider both languages and not to compartamentalize or ghettoize either one remains an essential warning in our increasingly fragmented educational arrangements not to lose sight of the other side of what for centuries has been a dual-language island. As he reminds us: the Irish were the only European people "who taught themselves English in their own country," and who chose--not always under direct coercion--to surrender their legacy of Irish for that of a more pragmatically necessary English, as most 19c Irish decided to do. (283-4)
In a sustained and wide-roaming introduction reprinted here to his co-edited "The Flowering Tree" anthology of poems presented in both languages, he
considers what since the mid-80s has only accelerated: Ireland as an open-air museum for "spiritual tourism," sold to both foreigners and the anglicized Irish themselves as a commodity rare and therefore more valuable than when a Gaelic-speaking Ireland actually existed. (118-9) This "war against the past," Kiberd studies, draws in everything from psychology to colonialism to revolution and rebellion and emasculation as Ireland, over its past century, struggles clumsily to grow up apart from Britain.
There's lots for further thinking in these pages, and while some essays seem too discursive in their attempt to cover so much terrain within a few pages that occasionally they wander off on welcome but unnecessary digressions, this is a small fault for a diverse and intelligent volume of commentary.
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