Beyond (or sometimes in between) casinos, I have an assortment of hobbies that I use to wind down and relax. Among these is reading, and lately, I have decided to reread some of the books I’ve kept over the years.
My personal collection includes a few works from Irish authors, some of which I purchased when my interest and appreciation in my cultural heritage first developed. It’s only recently that I’ve started re-reading some of them. I swear some of these dog ears I’ve placed in Dubliners have been around since ’82.
The cultural hegemony of England is prominent in the history of Irish literature to the point that many well known Irish writers, including Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift, had written most of their best work in England and have become part of the English literary tradition. It wasn’t until Ireland became an independent country that the works of London-based Irish writers were rightfully reincorporated into the Irish canon.
Like most literary forms, Irish Literature was a product of its culture and of its time. The unique picture painted the Irish painted in the printed word, be it in Irish or Hiberno-English, had endured more than 800 years of occupation and exploitation under the rule of the British. Given its roots in Anglo–Irish relations, it generally takes on a particularly dismal tone. Ulysses and Dubliners peer into the lives of Turn of the Century Irish people in the aforementioned city.
Commentators from within Ireland postulate that the rather harsh environment of British rule led to a coping mechanism that to a casual observer would appear to be full of contradictions and almost clichéd melancholy.
A few gems of Irish literature include the aforementioned anthology Dubliners and Gulliver’s Travels, The Importance of Being Earnest, and the mundane epic Ulysses, which I’ll be saving for whenever I take a particularly long flight.