First World War in Irish Poetry [The]

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1st Edition

230 x 155 mm. 312pp Illustrated... [In stock in Australia, for immediate delivery]

In comparison to the hundreds of books written about the politics and literature of the Northern Irish Troubles, historical re-evaluations of Ireland's role in the Great War have been sporadic and incomplete. This is particularly puzzling considering the fact that while 3600 victims have lost their lives so far during the Troubles, over 35,000 Irish men and women were killed in the Great War. The disparity here between the magnitude of these two tragedies and the attention devoted to them by Irish writers suggests the predominance of a selective historical consciousness. While poetry about the Northern Irish Troubles enters the anthologies and gets overanalysed in books, conference papers, graduate theses and dissertations, Irish poetry about the First World War has received scant critical attention.

Apart from the common misperception that Great War poetry is generally sentimental and pre-modern, writing about Ireland's role in the First World War offers its own challenges as it forces writers to confront historical ambiguities and complexities which the Troubles, with their generally naked sectarian aggression, tend to obscure. For those who like the traditional binaries of nationalist versus unionist, loyalist versus republican, and Catholic versus Protestant neatly arranged in parallel lines, the Troubles serve nicely as the latest manifestation of an old struggle. But the Irish experience in the First World War and the manner in which the war has been appropriated and re-appropriated in Irish memory also disturb the customary coaxial dialogues about the so-called Irish Problem.

Drawing on the work of over thirty Irish poets whose careers span the 20th century, from soldier poets like Francis Ledwidge to influential figures like Yeats, Joyce, and Heaney, Jim Haughey's The First World War in Irish Poetry provides the first comprehensive book-length study devoted to how Irish poets write the Great War. While the book surveys a startling range of viewpoints expressed about the war from an Irish perspective, it also explores the extent to which Irish memory of the war has been politicised to serve warring political ideologies. By presenting a wide reading of the poets' war poetry, Haughey illustrates how inaccurate memories of the war further exacerbate existing political divisions and intensify sectarian hatreds in Northern Ireland. A recurring preoccupation of the book is its exploration of the extent to which Irish war poetry (and popular culture) is suffused with unionist and nationalist mythographies which either read the war as a glorious imperial sacrifice or largely ignore it as a colonial sideshow to the Easter Rebellion.

In the final chapters, we learn how contemporary Irish poets view the war as an historical drama through which they can explore their individual expressions of Irishness, piece together fragmented family narratives, draw parallels between the war and the current unrest in Northern Ireland, or search for metaphors through which to tackle private and public questions of identity. By devoting separate chapters to soldier poetry, responses from the home front, post-war reflections, and modern memory, Haughey demonstrates how Irish war memory continues to produce anachronistic readings of Irish history.
^ Literary Criticism ^


SKU 9780838754962
Barcode # 9780838754962
Brand AUP
Artist / Author Jim HAUGHEY

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