VOICES OF IRELAND: Classic Writings of a Rich and Rare Land

Malachy McCourt, Author . Running Press $29.95 (1200p) ISBN 978-0-7624-1336-2

In this excellent primer to modern Irish literature and politics, McCourt (A Monk Swimming) collects and introduces the work of 12 Irish writers. Some of the works are well known, such as Synge's The Playboy of the Western World, Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol, the early poems of Yeats or Joyce's Dubliners and Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. Another marvelous, albeit more obscure entry, is James Stephens's The Insurrection in Dublin, an eyewitness account of what it was like to be a citizen of Dublin and live through the Easter Rising of 1916. Lady Gregory, best known as co-founder of the Abbey Theatre (with Yeats), is represented here by several selections from her collection Irish Myths and Legends, dealing extensively with the Celtic warrior, Finn. McCourt also includes selections from Maria Edgeworth's "big house novel" Castle Rackrent and William Carleton's Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry. The only contributor here who was not a professional writer is Michael Collins, the inventor of modern guerrilla warfare who negotiated the treaty that led to the Republic of Ireland. The excerpt here outlines Collins's plans for the new Irish nation. Some of McCourt's biographical introductions could be more polished, but the reader will be rewarded many times over by the insights the collection affords into the social, economic and political life of Ireland up to 1922. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Paperback - 1126 pages - 978-0-7624-1701-8
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