This book traces the emergence of a self-consciously national tradition in Irish writing from the era of the French Revolution and, specifically, from Edmund Burke's counter-revolutionary writings. From Gerald Griffin's The Collegians, to Bram Stoker's Dracula, from James Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy to Synge, Yeats, and Joyce, Irish writing is dominated by a number of inherited issuesthose of national character, of conflict between discipline and excess, of division between the languages of economics and sensibility, of modernity and backwardness. Almost all the activities of Irish print cultureits novels, songs, historical analyses, typefaces, poemstake place within the limits imposed by this complex inheritance. In the process, Ireland created a national literature that was also a colonial one. This was and is an achievement that is only now being fully recognised.
Seamus Deane is Keough Professor of Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.