Paddy and Mr. Punch: Connections in Irish and English History (Penguin history)

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9780140171709: Paddy and Mr. Punch: Connections in Irish and English History (Penguin history)

Elizabeth Bowen, one of the writers considered in this book, described the relationship of Ireland and England as 'a mixture of showing-off and suspicion, nearly as bad as sex'. In these essays Roy Foster explores the patterns of resentment, exploitation, dependence and rejection which were created by centuries of proximity, colonization and emigration. Often seen through the individual experiences of people 'caught' between England and Ireland (a varied gallery including Randolph Churchill, Thackeray, Trollope, Yeats, Parnell and the notorious Mrs O'Shea), these intersections also cut across subjects like the representation of the Irish in Victorian journalism and fiction, the roots of constitutional nationalist agitation, and the making of literary reputations. The last essay, 'Marginal Men and Micks on the Make', is a wide-ranging discussion of the uses of exile, both to and from Ireland. Against the cut and dried stereotypes of Anglo-Irish relations, an overall ambiguity is asserted here, whether the topic examined is the flawed structure of the Act of Union, the way words are used in Irish political rhetoric, or the divided allegiances of Parnell, Yeats and Bowen. These closely linked essays stress assonances as well as dissonances, and provide a commentary on neglected aspects of literary history and national identity.

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About the Author:

Roy Foster was born in Waterford, Ireland, in 1949, and educated in both Ireland and the United States. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, where he was a foundation scholar in history, he subsequently became Professor of Modern British History at Birkbeck College, University of London, as well as holding visiting fellowships at St Anthony's College, Oxfrd, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and Princeton University. In 1991 he became the first Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and was elected a Fellow of Hertford College. His books include Charles Stewart Parnell: The Man and His Family (1976) which is also available through Faber Finds, Lord Randolph Churchill: A Political Life (1981), Modern Ireland 1600 - 1972 (1988), The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland (1989) and a two-part biography of W.B. Yeats which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Drawing on politics, literature, popular culture, and his personal observations, Foster (History/Oxford, Modern Ireland, 1600-1971, 1989), the leading authority on modern Irish history, reveals in this gathering of 14 essays (most previously published in academic journals) the intricacies, ambivalences, and illusions behind the Anglo-Irish identity crisis, especially from 18401922. Foster's emphasis is on people: the cultural mediators, the displaced, the dislocated. They are Irishmen, who like himself, lived in England--Swift, Edmund Burke, Boswell, Tom Moore, a century of great journalists. In his concluding essay he calls them ``Micks on the Make,'' as opposed to the ``misfits,'' the ``marginal men,'' the English dreamers such as Shelley, Engels, Lord Randolph Churchill, and Maude Gonne, who found, however briefly, a congenial space in Ireland, or Trollope and Disraeli, who used it as a setting for their political novels. Including popular culture as historical evidence, Foster reveals some of the complexity of these colliding perspectives: Kitty O'Shea's scandalous memoir of Parnell (1914) and the bestial stereotypes of the Irish in the British humor magazine that Foster explores in the title essay shape the Irish sense of national identity both at home and abroad. But it is the diversity of Irishness that emerges from the essays, over a century, over several social and economic classes, through different professions, religions, and even, as in the case of Yeats (about whom Foster is writing a biography), within one lifetime: the poet, in his 60s, turning on the Catholic establishment that had nourished his Celtic tastes and nationalism to recover his Protestant background. However controversial the various topics, Foster handles them with wit, erudition, and civility. In his hands, the irreconcilable differences of the Anglo-Irish tradition and character become creative oppositions. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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