The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 3 Vol. Set

Seamus Deane, Editor W. W. Norton & Company $150 (0p) ISBN 978-0-393-03046-4
Field Day is an affiliation of writers and poets from the North and South of Ireland, founded by the playwright Brian Friel and actor Stephen Rea. Its purpose is to present a version of Ireland's history, past and present. Under the editorship of scholar and poet Seamus Deane, 1500 years of writing by the Irish and the Anglo-Irish, in English, Latin, French and Gaelic, is here assembled. In making the selections, says Deane in his introduction, ``we avoid the narrow sense of the word `literature,' extending it to cover various other kinds of writing''--speeches and songs as well as poems, short stories, drama and excerpts from novels. Volume III is a treasure trove of modern Irish literature--everyone is here, including a few now rehabilitated as Irish poets, such as Louis MacNeice; the essays that accompany each section, even the ones on those objects of literary industry, Joyce and Beckett, manage to situate various literary accomplishments against the sweep of Irish, British and European history. Perhaps the anthology's most important achievement, when all three volumes are taken as a whole, is what Deane refers to as the ``meta-narrative,'' in which a culture struggles against and within a colonizing presence (and language) to discover its own voice while extending the canon of the dominant literature. How this struggle was waged--in letters, in the streets, in the reaches of song--is the long, stirring testimony of this invaluable collection. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Hardcover - 5 pages - 978-0-946755-20-2
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