A magisterial survey of the ways in which postwar Irish writers have witnessed the frustration of the promise of Irish independence.
Declan Kiberd argues that Ireland has lost its sovereignty, and that the governing class has either managed the slow stagnation of Irish underdevelopment or recklessly encouraged property speculation and consumerism. The country's creative writers have been alert to this reality from the start. He describes the young Samuel Beckett witnessing the burning of Dublin in 1916 and realising that 'the birth of a nation might also seal its doom.' Kiberd traces the response to the crisis of Irish Statehood in the work of Seamus Heaney, Edna O'Brien, Brian Friel, John Banville, Joseph O'Connor and Claire Keegan, among others, as well as writers working in the Irish language.
Declan Kiberd is the author of Inventing Ireland, Ulysses and Us and Irish Classics. He has won many literary prizes. He is currently Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame in the USA.