Echoes of the Rebellion: The Year 1798 in Twentieth-Century Irish Fiction and Drama

By Radvan Markus

Oxford: Peter Lang

240 pp. | ISBN 978-3-0343-1832-7 | £40.00

The 1798 Rebellion, a watershed event in Irish history, has been a source of both inspiration and controversy over the last two centuries and continues to provoke debate up to the present day. The ongoing discussion about the meaning of the Rebellion has not been limited to history books, but has also found vivid expression in Irish fiction and theatre.

The product of extensive research, this study provides a comprehensive survey of historical novels and plays published on the topic throughout the twentieth century, comparing them with relevant historiography. It draws attention to a number of outstanding but often neglected literary works, bringing together materials written in both English and Irish. Employing important theoretical concepts such as Derrida’s ‘spectre’ and Hayden White’s tropological view of history, the book probes the relationship between historiography and fiction to shed light on their interplay in the Irish context, including the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. This investigation illuminates a number of broader questions, including the most pressing of all: in what way should we deal with the ‘spectres’ of the past and their complex legacies?

Contents: Theoretical Preliminaries: History, Fiction and Ethics – Squaring the Circle: The 1798 Rebellion in Historiography – A Long Tradition of 1798 Novels and Plays: Literary Reflections of the Rebellion, 1900-1916 – Presbyterians and Hidden Ireland: Literary Reflections of the Rebellion, 1916-2000 – To Retain One’s Humanity Among War’s Horrors: The Mythical Method of Eoghan Ó Tuairisc’s L’Attaque – ‘Bits of Broken Pottery’: The Fragmentary Method of Thomas Flanagan’s The Year of the French – ‘The Half-Built, Half-Derelict Cottage’: Stewart Parker’s Northern Star – Conclusions: Interpretations of 1798 in Twentieth-Century Fiction and Drama.

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