Cover: Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation, from Harvard University PressCover: Inventing Ireland in PAPERBACK

Inventing Ireland

The Literature of the Modern Nation

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$52.00 • £45.95 • €47.95

ISBN 9780674463646

Publication Date: 04/25/1997


736 pages

6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Convergences: Inventories of the Present

North America only

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[A] thought-provoking and entertaining critical blockbuster… There is no doubt that this book immediately joins a small group of indispensable books on Anglo-Irish literary history. It is also typical of the best of that school in the brio and wit with which its learning and intelligence are carried.—Bernard O’Donoghue, Times Literary Supplement

[A] state-of-the-art approach to Irish literature…a huge, erudite, scrupulous hermeneutics of the sacred literary texts in the Irish world… This is one of the best studies of Irish literature to come along in years.—Michael Stephens, Washington Post Book World

A critical study laced with wit, energy and unrelenting adroitness of discourse… Mr. Kiberd possesses a special gift for patient exploration of works of art in relationship to their surroundings… Wit, paradox, and an almost indecent delight in verbal jugglery place Mr. Kiberd himself in a central Irish literary tradition that also includes Swift, Joyce and Beckett… Impudent, eloquent, full of jokes and irreverence, by turns sardonic and conciliatory, blithely subversive but, without warning, turning to display wide and serious reading, a generosity of spirit, a fierce and authentic concern for social and political justice. Rather like Wilde and Shaw… A remarkable achievement.—Thomas Flanagan, New York Times Book Review

Kiberd’s study is provocative, contentious, sly, tendentious, challenging, witty… It is a book argued with such passionate intensity that everyone with an interest in modern Irish writing will have to confront it, and in that confrontation revisions and redefinitions are likely to slouch towards birth… Kiberd’s book is a resounding success. It will seduce you, bludgeon you and outrage you. Few books can boast such presence.—Gerry Dukes, Irish Independent

Inventing Ireland is a major contribution to Irish literary studies, a work that at its best pulsates with the same iconoclastic commitment to renewal and emancipation that Kiberd reveres in the works of the Irish writers of the revolutonary generation.—Joe Cleary, Irish Literary Supplement

Kiberd’s magesterial exploration of how cultural nationalism produced one of the world’s great modern literatures is especially valuable as nationalism itself becomes increasingly implicated in the violence and terrorism in Northern ireland, Yugoslavia, Israel, and many African states.—Vera Kreilkamp, Irish Literary Supplement

Kiberd possesses one of the liveliest and sharpest minds in Ireland, and it is not surprising that his book dazzles and engages. Nor that Inventing Ireland is both an international and an Irish book.—Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

An epic study in various forms of connection between literature and society, literature and history. Kiberd has set himself a mammoth task which he has undertaken with energetic erudition and accomplished with convincing style… [Kiberd’s] most striking characteristic as a critic is his intellectual daring: he is capable of saying things that simply take the reader’s breath away… [This book is] ebullient, monumental… epical in its aims and achievements.—Brendan Kennelly, Sunday Business Post

Inventing Ireland…deserves to be read, not only by people with a special interest in Irish writing, but also by people with a strong interest in modern writing in English. Kiberd has much that is original and valuable to say.—Conor Cruise O’Brien, Sunday Telegraph

Formidable, thoroughly enjoyable, always engaged, often brilliant… This is the fullest attempt we have had to date to read both Irish historical experience and the literature that this has involved in the light of post-colonial theory.—Terence Brown, The Tribune Magazine

A dazzling book, a book to cherish and revisit. As you read and reread the Anglo-Irish texts, you’ll find it altering them, lightening them up. It changes Beckett and Joyce; it especially changes John Millington Synge. It ends by offering to reshape Irish Studies curricula.—Hugh Kenner, Washington Times

[A] remarkable book… [Kiberd] brilliantly explores all the variables that contribute to what the Irish call Sinn Fein (ourselves). At the core of Kiberd’s analysis is the exploration of the literary history of Ireland. What he discovers in the works of Shaw, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Synge, Bowen, and Beckett is not only fascinating reading but also an original and expanded view of Irish culture… His work is a stunningly bold achievement and also an invaluable source for readers and scholars.Library Journal

Inventing Ireland is exactly what its title claims—an act of exuberant creativity. Nimbly, skillfully, and almost with a sense of near-wonderment at his own discoveries, Kiberd explores the continuities between Irish past and Irish present. And by focusing on what he calls ‘revered masterpieces,’ and by examining them in the wider social context out of which they came, he fashions a nation that is hospitable to all its prickly constituents.—Brian Friel

Inventing Ireland is that completely unusual thing: a highly readable, joyfully contentious book whose enormous learning and superb understanding of the literary text will introduce readers for the first time to a remarkably lively panorama of Irish culture during the last century. Full of novel readings, theoretical investigations and audacious connections, Declan Kiberd’s book lifts Ireland out of ethnic studies and lore and places it in the post-colonial world. In doing so he situates its great cultural traditions where they jostle not only the major texts of English literature, but also those of writers like Salman Rushdie and García Márquez. The result in a dazzling, bravura performance.—Edward W. Said

Awards & Accolades

  • 1996 Michael J. Durkan Prize, American Conference for Irish Studies
  • A Library Journal 35 Best Books of 1996 Selection

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