This unique anthology illustrates the full range of Irish fiction from Gulliver's Travels to young contemporary writers like Roddy Doyle and Emma Donoghue. Including self-contained sections from novels as well as short stories, all the most important writers are represented, from Swift and Sterne through Joyce, Beckett and Wilde to modern masters like Banville and William Trevor. Colm Toibin's long introduction describes the contexts and particular strengths of Irish fiction.
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Compiling a history of Irish fiction from Jonathan Swift to Emma Donoghue is a tricky, if not controversial task, but Colm Toibin has succeeded with great skill in his collection of The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction. All the obvious names are here--Laurence Sterne, Maria Edgworth, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Roddy Doyle--as well as less recognisable writers, including Emily Lawless, Val Mulkerns, Colum McCann and Donoghue, "whose dramatisations of sexual politics have", according to Toibin, "set a new tone in Irish fiction".
There are omissions and odd choices, as in any selection of this scope, but Toibin's introduction cleverly justifies his selection, as well as taking the reader through the peculiar history of Irish writing. "The purpose of much Irish fiction, it seems," he suggests, "is to become involved in the Irish argument" over politics and nationalism. While skilfully moving through the highly charged writing of Goldsmith, Moore, Flann O'Brien and Friel, Toibin also notes a waning of radicalism in current Irish writing and asks, "now that the violence is fading and the society moves slowly towards Anglo-Irish Agreement and European Union, will we see a waning of the national themes in Irish writing?" The answer is probably yes, but the richness and diversity of Toibin's collection suggest that Irish writing is alive and well, whatever its future direction. --Jerry BrottonReview:
'Over 1000 pages of the best writing that this island has produced' - Irish Independent
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140236503