Thursday, November 20, 2008

For the love of Ireland

The 10th edition of the Carnival of Irish History and Culture encouraged bloggers to post on some aspect of Ireland that they particularly love.

I chose Irish literature because the emerald isle has produced so many great writers over so many generations, whose works both transcend time and push the boundaries of the written word as an artform.

Consider a few of these geniuses.

You can look all the way back to Jonathan Swift, who introduced us to Lemuel Gulliver and his travels to Lilliput and beyond.

James Joyce can put your brain thru a wringer with his stream of consciousness and multi-level puns. If you don't believe me, check out Finnegan's Wake.

Or, if you're really looking for a mind-bender, try anything by Samuel Beckett.

Roddy Doyle, a modern playwright, has had his works translated to the big screen. Remember "The Commitments," about the bunch of Irish soul singers?

He's not nearly as controversial as John Millington Synge was "back in the day," though. His work "The Playboy of the Western World" actually sparked riots in Ireland!

I love the moxy of Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, who so objected to being included in an anthology of British writers that he composed this couplet: "Be advised, my passport's green. No glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen!"

Of course, everyone on this side of the Atlantic has heard of Frank McCourt, the living legend whose work Angela's Ashes is rightfully taught in our public schools.

And, don't forget Lady Gregory, whose motto should be the vow of all writers: "To think like a wise man, but to express oneself like the common people."

I'm not much one for poetry, but even I have to salute William Butler Yeats for his collection "The Tower."

Most recently, I enjoyed watching the film adaptation of Brian Friel's play "Dancing at Lughnasa." Check it out for yourselves. They carry it at Blockbuster!

Finally, look for one of Edna O'Brien's books. Her writings finally convinced me that women struggle to understand men as much as we struggle to understand them!

Everyone can understand why Irish literature is such a sorce of pride and object of affection, though. Don't you agree?

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