The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature

Edited by Robert Welch (author) and completed in 1996. The literature of Ireland displays an exceptional richness and diversity - whether in Irish or English, by native Irish and Anglo-Irish writers or by outsiders like Edmund Spenser whose works were deeply imbued with the country in which he lived and wrote. In over 2,000 entries, the Companion to Irish Literature surveys the Irish literary landscape across some sixteen centuries, describing its features and landmarks. Entries range from ogam writing, developed in the 4th century, to the fiction, poetry, and drama of the l990s; and from Cú Chulainn to James Joyce. There are accounts of authors as early as Adomnán, 7th century Abbot of Iona, up to contemporary writers such as Roddy Doyle, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, and Edna O'Brien. Individual entries are provided for all major works, from Táin Bó Cuailnge - the Ulster saga reflecting the Celtic Iron Age - to Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent, Ó Cadhain's Cré na Cille, and Banville's The Book of Evidence. The Companion also illuminates the historical contexts of these writers, and the events which sometimes directly inspired them - the [Irish Famine of 1845-8, which provided a theme for novelists, poets, and memoirists from William Carleton to Patrick Kavanagh and Peadar Ó Laoghaire; the founding of the Abbey Theatre and its impact on playwrights such as J. M. Synge and Padraic Colum; the Easter Rising that stirred Yeats to the `terrible beauty' of `Easter 1916'. It offers a wealth of information on general topics, ranging from the stage Irishman to Catholicism, Protestantism, the Irish language, and university education in Ireland; and on genres such as annals, bardic poetry, and folksong. The majority of entries include a succinct bibliography, and the volume also provides a chronology and maps.


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