Hungry Words: Images of Famine in the Irish Canon

27.5059.50

George Cusack and Sarah Goss (Eds.)

Hungry Words re-evaluates the authors and texts generally recognised as the ‘canon’ of Irish literature in the light of newly-identified famine discourse. Each essay focuses on the ways Irish authors with varying claims to canonical status affect and are affected by the literary discourse which emerged from the Great Famine.

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Hungry Words re-evaluates the authors and texts generally recognised as the ‘canon’ of Irish literature in the light of newly-identified famine discourse. Each essay focuses on the ways Irish authors with varying claims to canonical status affect and are affected by the literary discourse which emerged from the Great Famine. The anthology further illuminates not only the cultural impact of the famine, but the nature of the canon itself and the ideologies used to determine which authors and texts best represent Ireland’s cultural identity.

Although the Famine and its cultural aftermath in particular have become increasingly popular subjects of scholarly inquiry in the past few years, most studies of Famine literature have focused exclusively on works, authors, and cultural experiences outside the Irish literary mainstream. This oversight has perpetuated the longstanding myth that Irish authors and Irish culture have, for the most part, deliberately avoided engagements with the Famine. Hungry Words will seek to dispel this myth by tracing the Famine’s influence on the works of mainstream authors from throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. Through this approach we will demonstrate that, far from being ignored, the legacy of the Famine has been felt, explored, and transformed by each generation of Irish authors since the 1840s. Furthermore, by focusing on authors with differing claims to canonical status, the anthology as a whole will cast a critical eye on the ideologies of the Irish canon over the last 160 years.

Table of Contents

Part One: The Burden of Witness

  • The stricken land: the Great Hunger in Ireland ~ Christine Kinnealy
  • The caoineadh in Famine poetry: a communal expression of defiance ~ Katherine Parr
  • ‘Philosophick views’?: Maria Edgeworth and the Great Famine ~ Margaret Kelleher
  • The limits of empathy: Trollope’s Castle Richmond ~ Margaret Scanlan
  • Dracula and the spectre of Famine ~ Sarah Goss

Part Two: The Politics of Memory

  • Feeding on gossamer, caught in the web: Famine tensions in Yeats’s The Countess CathleenJerome Joseph Day
  • ‘In the gripe of the ditch’: nationalism, famine and The Playboy of the Western World ~ George Cusack
  • The Joyce of eating: feast, famine and the humble potato in Ulysses ~ Bonnie Roos
  • ‘Buried! Who would have buried her?’: Famine ‘ghost graves’ in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame ~ Julieann Ulin

Part Three: The Struggle for Context

  • Frank O’Connor and the Irish Holocaust ~ Robert C. Evans
  • Tom Murphy: famine and dearth ~ Nicholas Grene
  • Irresponsible anorexia: the ethics of Eavan Boland’s Famine ~ Nieves Pascual
  • ‘It was a life-changing book’: tracing Cecil Woodham-Smith’s impact on the canon of children’s literature of the Irish Famine ~ Karen Hill McNamara
  • An afterword of silence ~ Christopher Morash

 

 

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