Paddy and Mr. Punch: 2connections in Irish and English History

R. F. Foster, Author Viking Books $27.5 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7139-9095-9
Elizabeth Bowen, who has a chapter dedicated to her in this book, has said that the Anglo-Irish relationship is ``a mixture of showing off and suspicion, nearly as bad as sex.'' And in these 14 essays Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford, covers many facets of the British-Irish debate, concentrating especially on the literary and the political. In ``History and the Irish Question'' he shows how each side manufactures and manipulates history to its own advantage. ``Interpretations of Parnell'' probes Parnell's lack of enthusiasm for the Land League, which was intended to redistribute land to the peasantry, and--ironically in view of later events--his excellent relationships with Catholic clerics. In ``Mrs. O'Shea's Parnell ,'' Kitty O'Shea talks about politics and Parnell, ``the ideal lover.'' Foster's descriptions of famous Irishmen are mordant, true and funny: Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 rebellion, was a ``calculatedly disingenuous propagandist''; legendary revolutionary leader Michael Collins is seen as ``the supermick on the make''; Yeats ``a marginalized Irish Protestant.'' This is not a book for the casual reader of Irish history. A scorecard will not suffice here; one must know the players in order to understand this complicated, insightful and sometimes irreverent work. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994
Release date: 05/01/1994
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 382 pages - 978-0-14-017170-9
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